Afghan security forces kill senior al Qaeda leader al-Masri

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Kabul: Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al-Qaeda leader who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted Terrorists list, Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security says.

Al-Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiracy to kill US nationals.

Abu Muhsin al-Masri, also known as Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, has reportedly been killed. He is wanted in connection with his membership in al-Qaeda, an organisation known for committing acts of terrorism against the government of the United States.

Al-Masri, believed to be al Qaeda's second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province, the Directorate of Security said.

The FBI declined to comment.

The al-Qaeda operative, who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra'uf, was an Egyptian national, according to the FBI.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said fewer than 200 al-Qaeda operatives remain in Afghanistan.

This month marks 19 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban rulers, who had harboured al Qaeda militants who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The United States has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a landmark deal with the Taliban in February.

That deal is set to see foreign forces leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power sharing formula with the Afghan government.

The intra-Afghan peace process kicked off in Doha last month. Despite the talks, fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces has raged in recent weeks.

Last week, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban had agreed to "re-set" their commitments under a troop withdrawal deal and reduce the number of casualties in the country.

Reuters

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