Afghan forces killed a top Al-Qaeda commander in a joint raid with the US on the Taliban in Helmand province last month.
Asim Omar was killed alongside six of his fellow terrorists from the organization in a September 23 attack, Afghanistan‘s National Directorate for Security revealed Tuesday.
Omar was the head of operations in South Asia and died alongside his courier to Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
‘They had been embedded inside the Taliban compound in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala,’ a statement from Afghan’s intelligence services read.
An additional 22 Taliban fighters, including foreigners, were killed in the raid.
A further 14 people were arrested, including five Pakistani nationals and one Bangladeshi.
Despite the operation taking down several senior members of Al-Qaeda, at least 40 people attending a nearby wedding party were inadvertently killed, according to local officials.
Most of those who died were women and children, Helmand’s Deputy Provincial Councilman Abdul Majed Akhund said at the time.
Asim Omar (pictured) was killed alongside six of his terrorist colleagues in a joint raid by US and Afghan forces in Musa Qala last month
At least 40 people attending a nearby wedding party were reportedly killed in the September 23 operation. Villagers are pictured carrying dead body on a stretcher outside a hospital following the attack
He revealed a further twelve civilians were wounded in the airstrikes and had to be taken to nearby hospitals.
At the time, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said: ‘We are saddened and devastated to hear that civilians have lost their lives in an incident in Helmand despite President Ghani’s repeated call for extra cautions in conducting military operations.’
According to Reuters, Afghan officials said a house being used by the Taliban to train suicide bombers was located adjacent to the bride’s home that came under fire.
One witness told the news network that he was headed to the meet the bride for a henna ceremony ‘when the battle began’.
Civilians wheel an elderly man from the hospital on Monday after he was injured in the US- Afghan raid
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani (pictured) said: ‘We are saddened and devastated to hear that civilians have lost their lives in an incident in Helmand despite President Ghani’s repeated call for extra cautions in conducting military operations.’
‘We told the security forces that we were not members of the Taliban… but both sides ended up killing civilians,’ he said.
However, the US disputes how the civilians died.
Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said some bystanders were killed by Taliban members who detonated suicide vests.
The US invaded Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001, after the Taliban – who ruled the country at the time – refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden.
Afghan villagers sit on the back of a vehicle carrying dead bodies to a hospital following the September 23 raid
However, the United States has more recently been trying to negotiate a deal with the militant group, reportedly wanting to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s renunciation of Al-Qaeda.
However, peace talks fell through last month when President Trump cancelled secret plans to host Taliban members after they admitted to killing a US soldier.
Meanwhile, the presence of Omar and other senior Al-Qaeda figures inside the Taliban compound at the time of the September 23 raid raises questions about whether the groups are ready to cut ties.
The raid occurred in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala, in the south of Afghanistan (pictured)
The Taliban are at their strongest since their ouster in 2001 and hold sway over more than half the country, staging near-daily, deadly attacks across Afghanistan.
The UN report found that US and Afghan forces killed 717 civilians and injured 680 in the first six months of the year, up 31 per cent from the same period in 2018.
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