Ayman al-Zawahiri assassination: Taliban condemn killing, calling it a 'violation of international law'

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a US drone strike had taken place in the capital of Kabul, saying the group “strongly condemn[ed]” the attack and called it “a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement”

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, August 02, 2022, 02:27 PM IST
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Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid | PTI/AP

The Taliban have condemned the US drone strike in Kabul city over the weekend that killed al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri on Sunday night (local time).

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that a US drone strike had taken place in the capital of Kabul, saying the group “strongly condemn[ed]” the attack and called it “a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement.”

“The Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms and considers it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,” Zabiullah Mujahid, the regime's spokesperson said in a statement in Pashto.

What is the Doha Agreement?

The Doha Agreement, was a peace agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020 in Doha, Qatar, to bring an end to the 2001–2021 war in Afghanistan. Negotiated by Zalmay Khalilzad, the agreement did not involve the then Afghan government.

The deal, which also had secret annexes, was one of the critical events that caused the collapse of the Afghan National Security Forces. Following the deal, the US dramatically reduced the number of air attacks and deprived the ANSF of a critical edge in fighting the Taliban insurgency, leading to the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15, 2021.

As part of the withdrawal agreement made by former U.S. President Donald Trump and the Taliban and accepted by Biden, the Taliban agreed not to provide a safe haven for individuals involved with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and the US agreed to only conduct military operations in Afghanistan with the consent of the Taliban government.

US officials called al-Zawahiri's presence in Afghanistan a violation of the agreement. Following the strike, members of the Haqqani network attempted to cover up al-Zawahiri's death, although the U.S. already had confirmed his death.

How did the strike unfold?

A statement from the Taliban condemned the operation and said the strike was conducted on a residential house in the Sherpur area of Kabul.

A spokesman for the Taliban said: "Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region".

The New York Times, citing an American analyst, reported that the house struck was owned by a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior official in the Taliban government.

A senior American official told the Times that Zawahiri was struck by two missiles while standing on a balcony, and suggested that the type of missile used was the AGM-114R9X Hellfire, which uses blades instead of a conventional explosive warhead to minimize collateral damage.

Significance of Zawahiri's death

The death of al-Zawahiri, one of the last remaining al-Qaeda leadership figures from the 9/11 era, raises questions about its future leadership. Al-Zawahiri presided over the terrorist group since the U.S. killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Many analysts expected that Hamza Bin Laden, one of the terror leader’s sons, would take over the leadership of al-Qaeda, but the US claimed to have killed him in a 2019 strike, effectively ending the Bin Laden legacy of al-Qaeda leadership.

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