US Strikes Target Al Qaeda Leaders in Afghanistan

US aircraft targeted two top al Qaeda leaders with strikes Oct. 23 in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. The results of the strikes are still being assessed, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement Wednesday. The deaths of Faruq al-Qatani, al Qaeda’s emir for northeastern Afghanistan and a senior planner of attacks on the US, and Bilal al-Utabi, also involved in the effort to re-establish safe havens for the group inside Afghanistan, would “disrupt efforts to plot against the United States and our allies and partners around the world, reduce the threat to our Afghan partners, and assist their efforts to deny al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan,” Cook said. Deadly attacks against US and coalition forces have also been attributed to al-Qatani. The majority of recent counter-terrorism US airstrikes in Afghanistan have targeted ISIS rather than al Qaeda. In May, Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the deputy chief of staff for communications for the Resolute Support Mission, said an estimated 100 to 300 al Qaeda members were believed to be in Afghanistan, but warned the group has the ability to quickly regenerate.