Washington, Europe Brief news – Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been killed in a CIA drone strike in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, United States President Joe Biden has said.
Al-Zawahiri’s killing was considered as the biggest blow to the group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.
“Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in a special televised address from outside the White House.
Intelligence had located al-Zawahiri’s family in Kabul earlier this year, Biden said, adding that no members of the family or civilians had been killed in the attack.
Earlier, US officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told reporters earlier that the CIA carried out a drone attack in Kabul using two missiles.
Al-Zawahiri was on his balcony at the time, they said.
The drone strike had reportedly taken place on a house that belonged to a Taliban leader.
The Taliban confirmed the attack in Kabul, and condemned it as a “violation of international principles”.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said al-Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul “grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries”.
Washington and the Taliban signed the deal in 2020 paving the way for the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces in return for a guarantee from the Taliban not to allow groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) to operate on Afghan soil. The US forces withdrew just before an August 31 deadline in what turned out to be a chaotic exercise.