Washington DC: United States officials have claimed that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was likely killed in an airstrike in Pakistan.
According to CNN, one of the officials said that the strike occurred in a remote area of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal, in which Mansour was the target of the strike, and a second adult male traveling with him in a vehicle also was likely killed.
The strike was carried out by multiple unmanned aircraft operated by U.S. Special Operations forces. There was no collateral damage, the official added.
The Pentagon confirmed the airstrike in a statement but did not say if the Taliban leader was taken out.
"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 Press Secretary Peter Cook said in the statement.
"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."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the more hawkish Republicans in the Senate, welcomed the news in a statement and urged Obama to not withdraw troops from Afghanistan "until conditions on the ground permit their withdrawal."
The Taliban revealed last summer that Mansour assumed command following the death of longtime leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who died in Pakistan in 2013.
According to the U.N. Security Council sanctions list, Mansour previously was the Taliban's minister of civil aviation and transportation and was considered "a prominent member of the Taliban leadership."