The US intelligence community assesses that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar is now dead, although the circumstances of his death is not yet clear, the White House has said.
“The US Intelligence Community assesses that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the former leader of the Afghan Taliban, is dead,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Earlier this week, Taliban confirmed the death of Omar in a statement, without saying when and where he died.
“While the exact circumstances of his death remain uncertain, it is clear that his demise, after decades of war and thousands of lives lost, represents a chance for yet more progress on the path to a stable, secure Afghanistan,” he said in a statement last night.
Noting that this comes on the heels of key milestones, he said in last year’s Afghan election, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah honored the efforts of millions of Afghan voters by ensuring the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in the nation’s history.
At year’s end, President Barack Obama ended the US combat mission in Afghanistan, bringing the longest war in American history to a responsible conclusion.
“But Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people still suffer from a brutal insurgency that continues to take innocent lives and hinder Afghanistan’s prospects for peace,” Earnest said.
At this time of transition, the Taliban can choose to continue to fight their own people and destabilise their own country, or they can choose peace, Earnest said.
“We encourage the Taliban to heed President Ghani’s call for reconciliation and make genuine peace with the Afghan Government,” he said.
“We and our international partners will continue to support President Ghani, the National Unity Government, and an Afghan-led reconciliation process as we work together to improve Afghanistan’s security, continue to target terrorists, and preserve the gains we have made together over the last 13 years,” said the White House Press Secretary.