The United States has carried out a major operation against Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour and "likely killed" him, according to a US official.
The drone strike was authorized by President Barack Obama, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Mansour was the target and was likely killed.”
The official said the strike occurred on Saturday in a remote area of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal.
The strike also killed another adult militant as the two men were traveling in a vehicle, but no civilians were killed, the official claimed.
A senior Obama administration official told CNN that it would likely take several days to get "physical confirmation" because of the remote location of the area. The official was speaking under the condition of anonymity.
The first official added that several unmanned aircraft operated by US Special Operations forces participated in the operation.
The US Department of Defense confirmed the drone strike but didn't say whether the Taliban Leader
was killed or not.
"Mansour has been the leader of the Taliban and actively involved with planning attacks against facilities in Kabul and across Afghanistan, presenting a threat to Afghan civilians and security forces, our personnel, and coalition partners," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement issued on Saturday.
"Mansour has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan government that could lead to an end to the conflict,” Cook added.
A photo published in the Long War Journal on June 16, 2015 shows Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Mullah Mohammed Omar (file photo)
Mansour assumed command of the Taliban on July 29 2015, following the death of its longtime leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who purportedly died on April 23 2013 from tuberculosis. The Taliban revealed last summer that Omar had died.
As the founder of the Taliban, Omar brought the militant group to power following the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan in the 1990s. He was ousted in 2001, when the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington's so-called war on terror.
The leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mansour, is shown in a newspaper in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2015. Photo / AP
The US military has conducted an air strike against Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that the attack on Mansour took place "in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region".
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that President Barack Obama had authorised the operation, in which several drone aircraft had launched a strike on a vehicle in a remote area near Ahmad Wal, a town in western Pakistan.
The official said that Mansour, who emerged as the Taliban leader in 2015, was "likely killed".
Cook said that Mansour had presented a threat to US and Afghan forces and to local civilians.
In the last year, the Afghan Government has been struggling to contain a resurgent Taliban, which has shown itself to be a still-powerful force as foreign troops have departed."Mansour has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan Government that could lead to an end to the conflict," Cook said.
The US official said that the results of the strike were still being examined but that it appeared a second man travelling with Mansour, described as another combatant, was also believed to have been killed.