Abdul Hasib, the Islamic State's top leader for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was killed last month in a joint Afghan-U.S. operation, the U.S. military said on Sunday, less than a year after the group's previous leader was also killed.
The Afghanistan-based South Asia Islamic State branch, dubbed Khorasan (ISIS-K), is named after an ancient title of a region that covers Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India, and other neighboring countries.
Several other senior leaders of the Islamic State group were also killed in the operation, which took place in the Nangarhar Province, the same area where the U.S. had dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on April 13.
The Daesh compound targeted in this raid was located near the tunnel complex where the U.S military unleashed the "Mother Of All Bombs" - a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast device - that the Pentagon said was the biggest non-nuclear weapon it had ever used in combat.
"This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat Daesh-K in 2017", the top United States commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement from U.S. military headquarters in Kabul.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis traveled to Afghanistan late last month to give the Afghan government his recommendations for US involvement moving forward.
His group is affiliated with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the U.S. military calls it Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K.
According to Pentagon estimates, around 1,000 ISIS militants are operating in Afghanistan.
At least 34 ISIS fighters were killed in airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province, Afghan officials said.
Islamic State has been active in Afghanistan since 2015, but has never had more than 3,000 fighters in the country.
Afghan and U.S. Forces launched a counter ISIS-K offensive in early March 2017 to drive ISISK from Nangarha.
The militant leader, Abdul Hasib, had overseen a number of bloody attacks that directly challenged the authority of President Ashraf Ghani, including a massacre at the main Afghan army hospital in Kabul that killed at least 50 people. Military officials described a chaotic scene, where multiple USA fire supports were called in as the terrorist group mounted a fierce resistance.
Hasib is the second Islamic State leader in nine months to be killed, along with dozens of commanders and hundreds of fighters, in US-Afghan joint operations, Nicholson said.