U.S., Afghan Forces Confirm Death of ISIS-Affiliated Terrorist

WASHINGTON --

U.S. and Afghan forces have confirmed the Aug. 10 death of Abdul Rahman, a provincial emir in Afghanistan's Kunar province for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria affiliate ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning said here today.

Airmen stand outside plane on flight line
Afghan air force and U.S. Air Force loadmasters stand in the shade of an Afghan air force C-208 during an airdrop training mission in Afghanistan's Logar province, Aug. 8, 2017. In June, the Afghan air force team, assisted by U.S. air advisors, conducted the first successful operational airdrop, resupplying a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel
Airmen stand outside plane on flight line Afghan Air Force C-208 airdrop mission
Afghan air force and U.S. Air Force loadmasters stand in the shade of an Afghan air force C-208 during an airdrop training mission in Afghanistan's Logar province, Aug. 8, 2017. In June, the Afghan air force team, assisted by U.S. air advisors, conducted the first successful operational airdrop, resupplying a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel

In an operational update for Pentagon reporters, Manning said Rahman was killed in an airstrike along with three other ISIS-K members in Kunar's Dara-e-Pech district in northeastern Afghanistan.

Rahman was a primary candidate to become the ISIS-K emir after the death of Abu Sayed in a July 11 strike on the group's headquarters in Kunar province.

"The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K, showing there are no safe havens in Afghanistan," Manning added, noting that U.S. and Afghan forces are keeping pressure on ISIS-K to disrupt their expansion plans -- part of ongoing operations to defeat the group in Afghanistan.

Iraq Operations

In northern Iraq this weekend, two U.S. soldiers were killed and five others were injured, Manning said, as an Army artillery section conducted a counterfire mission against an ISIS mortar site when an incident occurred.

"There is no indication that ISIS had anything to do with this," Manning said, noting that the injured soldiers were evacuated by air and that two eventually lost their lives. The other five soldiers did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Troop stand on a ship's flight deck as a helicopter comes in for a landing.
A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter prepares to land aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 9, 2017. The aircraft carrier is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to support Operation Inherent Resolve. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Leon Wong
Troop stand on a ship's flight deck as a helicopter comes in for a landing. Seahawk Landing
A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter prepares to land aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 9, 2017. The aircraft carrier is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to support Operation Inherent Resolve. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Leon Wong

The incident is now under investigation, and the unit will release information as appropriate, he added.

Also in Iraq, in eastern and western Mosul, the colonel said holding forces consisting of federal police continue to conduct security operations and assess security requirements.

"To the west of Mosul, the 9th and 15th [Iraqi Army Divisions] maintain defensive positions on the western forward line of troops near Tel Afar," Manning said, "and the coalition continues to support the [Iraqis] as they reset and prepare for follow-on operations in the western Ninevah province.

Syria Operations

In Syria, today is day 71 of operations to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, Manning said.

"Yesterday the [Syrian Democratic Forces] liberated about [.4 square miles] in Raqqa and about 55 percent of the total area of Raqqa has been cleared," he said.

On the western axis, the SDF maintained the forward line of troops despite ISIS sniper activity, and on the eastern axis, the SDF maintained incremental gains in the Old City north of the main supply route, Manning added.

On the southern forward line of troops south of the Euphrates River, the SDF maintained their defensive positions, he said, and the east-west deconfliction line south of the Euphrates is holding as regime forces remain south and SDF forces remain north of the agreed-upon line.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)