Afghan forces kill senior al-Qaeda leader

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Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al Qaeda leader who was on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list, Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) says.

Al-Masri, believed to be al-Qaeda's second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province, the NDS said.

The head of the US National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chris Miller, confirmed al-Masri's death, saying his "removal ... from the battlefield is a major setback to a terrorist organisation that is consistently experiencing strategic losses facilitated by the United States and its partners".

Al-Masri, an Egyptian national who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra'uf, was charged in the United States with providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiracy to kill US nationals.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said fewer than 200 al-Qaeda operatives remained in Afghanistan.

This month marks 19 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban rulers, who had harboured al-Qaeda militants who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The United States has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a landmark deal with the Taliban in February.

That deal is set to see foreign forces leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government.