US forces and NDS target al-Qaeda in Helmand and Nimroz

US forces and Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) launched two raids against al-Qaeda in Helmand and Nimroz provinces over the past several days, killing at least eight operatives and capturing three more, the Long War Journal reported.

According to the report, the US military launched an airstrike on Thursday that targeted a Taliban meeting in Nad Ali district in Helmand province.

At least 40 insurgents were reportedly killed or wounded during the airstrike, including Abdullah Baloch, the Taliban’s purported shadow governor of Farah province.

Eight members of al-Qaeda are also said to have been killed in the Nad Ali airstrike, the Long War Journal reported.

US intelligence officials meanwhile told Long War Journal that Baloch is what is known as a “dual hatted” commander: he leads members of both the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the NDS captured three al-Qaeda leaders during an operation in the southwestern province of Nimroz. The NDS identified the al-Qaeda leaders as Mustafa, the leader of al-Qaeda’s Amar Bil Marof Affairs, or its prevention of virtue and vice committee, Hafiz Abdul Aziz, and Hayatullah, the Long War Journal reported.

All three are Afghan citizens and have been involved with attacks on the Kamal Khan Dam as well as Zaranj City, the capital of Nimroz province.

According to the NDS, Mustafa and Hafiz Mohammad recently lived in Iran, and carried out terrorist attacks under the leadership of Hafiz Ghulamullah, deputy intelligence head of al-Qaeda in Nimroz.

Long War Journal stated that al-Qaeda leaders and operatives are known to shelter in Iran, and often cross the border to operate inside Afghanistan.

Israel recently killed Abu Mohammad al Masri (Adbullah Ahmed Abdullah), al-Qaeda’s second in command who was wanted by the US government, in an ambush in Tehran, Iran.

Long War Journal reported that despite repeated targeting, killing, and capturing of al-Qaeda leaders and operatives, the Taliban maintains that the terror group does not operate in Afghanistan. The Taliban maintains that al-Qaeda left Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001.

The Taliban maintains this lie because the February agreement with the United States stipulates that al-Qaeda cannot plot attacks against the West. In exchange, the US agreed to withdraw all forces by April 2021, Long War Journal reported.

The US government has not held the Taliban to account for its support of al-Qaeda.