ISIS dealt series of serious blows in Afghan stronghold

U.S. forces and Afghan commando are seen Asad Khil village near the site of a U.S. bombing in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 17, 2017.

AP

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's air force has pounded Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in an eastern province where an Afghan and U.S. military raid last month killed the militant group's top commander, the government said on Monday.

The Interior Ministry said the airstrikes killed at least 34 ISIS fighters over the past 24 hours and destroyed an insurgent-controlled radio station in Nangarhar province. The casualty toll could not be independently confirmed as the area is off-limits to reporters.

The ministry also said that the strikes targeted ISIS hideouts in Nazyan and Achin districts. It said the radio station had been illegally broadcasting ISIS messages across the eastern province and was therefore a threat to the people and the government.

The government statement came after the Pentagon announced on Sunday night that a military raid last month killed Abdul Haseeb Logari, the ISIS chief in Nangarhar.

Earlier, Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said Logari was the second leader of ISIS in Afghanistan to be killed in the last nine months. He said the militants had "waged a barbaric campaign of death, torture and violence against the Afghan people, especially those in southern Nangarhar."  

Two U.S. Army Rangers died in the April 27 raid. U.S. officials say they may have been killed as the result of friendly fire in the opening minutes of the three-hour battle.  

Logari was among several high-ranking leaders of ISIS' affiliate in Afghanistan who died in the raid carried out by Afghan Special Security Forces in partnership with U.S. forces, the Pentagon said in a statement.

A statement released on Monday from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office also confirmed Logari's death, adding that he was "responsible for ordering the attack on the military hospital in Kabul that took place in March in which around 50 people were killed and many more wounded."

After the March 8 Kabul hospital attack, Afghan and U.S. forces launched a counteroffensive in the province. Fighting there is still underway.

"I applaud the tremendous skill and courage shown by our Afghan partners," Nicholson said. "This fight strengthens our resolve to rid Afghanistan of these terrorists and bring peace and stability to this great country. Any ISIS member that comes to Afghanistan will meet the same fate."

ISIS, which seized significant territory in Iraq and Syria in a 2014 blitz, first emerged in Afghanistan in 2015, mainly in Nangarhar province but has since tried to enlarge its footprint, including by staging large-scale attacks in Kabul and elsewhere.

Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, is also where the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in the battlefield.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), as it is officially called -- or the "mother of all bombs," as it's become known -- sent a mushroom cloud towering into the air when it was used against an ISIS tunnel system near the border.