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US used Pakistan airspace to carry out drone strike that killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri: Report

Washington, USEdited By: Srishti Singh SisodiaUpdated: Aug 02, 2022, 08:41 PM IST
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File photo: Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri dead: US President Joe Biden said that 'justice had been delivered'. He also added that the warning 'no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out' 

The United States used Pakistan airspace for the drone which killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri in the heart of the Afghanistan capital Kabul, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported citing security analysts. 

US President Joe Biden said on Monday (August 1) that Zawahiri was killed in a "precision" strike. His death comes as the biggest blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011. 

The report further added that Pakistan gave permission to the US to use its airspace. The security analysts also believed that Islamabad could have provided human intelligence to confirm the whereabouts of Zawahri. 

As quoted by SCMP, Abdul Basit, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said, "The drone definitely entered Pakistani airspace over Balochistan and entered Afghanistan." 

Basit mentioned the 2003 agreement and suggested that the operation was probably conducted on the terms of that agreement. Notably, under the 2003 agreement, Pakistan provided an air corridor for US military flights to and from Afghanistan during the time when it occupied the country. 

As quoted, Basit said, when the United States pulled out from Afghanistan in August last year, "The 2003 agreement expired" but, "it was kept intact to keep the airspace open for the US." 

Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden and including the deadly 9/11 attacks, he was believed to be the mastermind who steered Al-Qaeda's other operations. He was also bin Laden's personal doctor. 

As quoted by the website, Jonathan Schroden, who is a military operations analyst, also agreed that the drone did cross Pakistani airspace. 

While announcing the operation, Biden said that "justice had been delivered". He also added that the warning "no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out." 

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