- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2016

President Obama said Monday that the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike was an “important milestone” in the longstanding effort to bring peace to Afghanistan.

He called the death of Mansour, who was killed when a U.S. drone fired on his vehicle in southwestern Pakistan, a “clear signal” that the U.S. would “protect our people.”

“It has been confirmed that he is dead,” Mr. Obama said Monday during a visit to Vietnam. “He is an individual who, as head of the Taliban, was specifically targeting U.S. personnel and troops inside of Afghanistan.”

Mr. Obama stressed the U.S. troops were in Afghanistan to assist and train Afghan security forces, who are supposed to be leading the fight against the Taliban.

Mr. Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, but the next year halted the withdrawal and thousands of troops remain in the war zone.

“We are not re-entering the day-to-day combat operations that are currently being conducted by Afghan security forces,” Mr. Obama said. “Our job is to help Afghanistan secure its own country, not to have our men and women in uniform engage in that fight for them.”

Mansour had emerged as the successor to Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, whose 2013 death was only revealed last year.

Obama authorized the attack and was briefed before and after it was carried out, aides told The Associated Press.

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