Pentagon: US drone strike deals 'significant blow' to Pakistani Taliban

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little would not confirm reports that Taliban chieftain Maulvi Nazir was among the six militants killed during a U.S. drone strike in the restive border region of South Waziristan, along the Afghan-Pakistan border. 

ADVERTISEMENT
However, Little did note that Nazir had "a great deal of blood on his hands" due to his activities in the Pakistani tribal areas that straddle eastern Afghanistan. His death, if confirmed, would constitute a serious blow to the Taliban and other militant networks operating in the region, he said

"Anytime a bad guy has a bad day, it is a good day for us," Little added. 

While Little and DOD declined to confirm Nazir's death, Pakistani intelligence officials told the New York Times that the Taliban chieftain was among the dead in Thursday's drone strike. 

“He has been killed. It is confirmed,” one Pakistani intelligence officer told the Times

Nazir's vehicle was hit by American drones while traveling though the Angoor Adda region of South Waziristan, while en route to the main city of Wana, according to the Times

The Taliban commander's top aide and five other Taliban fighters were also among those killed during the drone strike, the Times reports. 

During his time in South Waziristan, Nazir's fighters were responsible for numerous cross-border attacks against U.S. and coalition positions in eastern Afghanistan. 

Nazir, along with other Taliban commanders such as Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Hakimullah Mehsud, the alleged leader of the Pakistani Taliban, have been responsible for coordinating some of the deadliest attacks on U.S. forces since the White House surged more than 20,000 U.S. troops into the southern part of the country in 2009.

Islamabad's unwillingness to adequately seal off the border and root out terror groups seeking asylum inside Pakistan has continued to be a roadblock in increasingly strained relations between Washington and Pakistan. 

As a result, U.S. military and intelligence officials have ramped up the use of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly along the violent border region. 

Last June, American and NATO commanders reportedly considered carrying out their own cross-border raids into Pakistan to root out terror cells along Afghan-Pakistan border. 

Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, along with several high-level U.S. intelligence and special-operations leaders, were briefed on the plan, according to reports by the Associated Press at the time.