The Pentagon confirmed on Sunday that the target of the April 27th joint raid conducted by Army Rangers and Afghan commandos against ISIS-K in Afghanistan was indeed killed at the scene.  Two Army Rangers, Sergeant Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois, and Sergeant Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio, were also killed in the fighting.

Sheikh Abdul Hasib, the head of ISIS in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, has been confirmed dead by U.S. and Afghan officials, after weeks of speculation that the mission was a success.

On April 27th, 50 American Army Rangers and another 40 Afghan commandos dropped via helicopter into a well-fortified encampment in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province only about a mile or so from the site of the heavily reported MOAB (GBU-43/B) strike that killed as many as 94 ISIS fighters hidden within a subterranean cave complex.  That cave complex was discovered after another American Special Operations soldier lost his life in an ambush in that region, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland.

According to Defense officials, the joint anti-terrorism force was immediately surrounded by enemy combatants, with the two Rangers falling to small arms fire in the early moments of the raid.

Initial reports indicated that they may have been killed in a friendly fire incident, and an investigation has been launched in order to determine if that was indeed the case, as well as whether the incident involved other Army Rangers or members of the Afghan security force.  In either event, Defense officials indicate that, if it was indeed a friendly fire incident, it was an unintentional one.

According to reports, the firefight went on for more than three hours, with U.S. forces calling in air support from AC-130 aircraft, F-16s, drones and Apache helicopters in order to turn the tide of the fighting.

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According to Pentagon officials, Hasib was the target of the raid, but a number of other high-ranking ISIS officials were also neutralized during the attack, as well as at least 35 other ISIS personnel.

“This is the second ISIS-K emir we have killed in nine months, along with dozens of their leaders and hundreds of their fighters,” said General John Nicholson, Commander US Forces – Afghanistan. “For more than two years, ISIS-K has waged a barbaric campaign of death, torture and violence against the Afghan people, especially those in southern Nangarhar.”

According to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Office, Hasib was responsible for “ordering the attack on the 400-bed hospital in Kabul, kidnapped girls and beheaded elders in front of their families.”  Ghani’s office confirmed Hasib’s death via Twitter.  The hospital attack his office referenced was an ISIS operation that saw gunmen disguised as medical personnel killing thirty patients inside a Nahgarhar hospital before ultimately being killed by Afghan security forces.

American Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, spoke to reporters last week about the sacrifices made by the two Army Rangers that lost their lives in the execution of this important raid:

“They carried out their operation against [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan] in Afghanistan before making the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation and our freedoms,” Mattis said. “Our nation owes them an irredeemable debt, and we give our deepest condolences to their families.”

 

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