US kills Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri who took over from Osama bin Laden

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The US has reportedly killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, 71, in a drone strike, it has been reported.

American President Joe Biden is set to give a speech about a "successful counterterrorism mission" at 7.30pm (12.30am UK time) on Monday night (August 1) confirming the news.

In a statement to reporters, a senior Biden administration official said: “Over the weekend, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation against a significant Al Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The operation was successful and there were no civilian casualties.”

According to POLITICO, one of those briefed on the operation said the strike on the Afghan capital of Kabul was led by the CIA, but a spokesperson for the Pentagon said the military has not recently conducted any strikes in the area.

The delay in the announcement of Al-Zawahri's death was due to the fact that the American administration wanted to delay releasing the information until it could confirm his death.

Senator Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the operation “an important accomplishment", adding: “This strike should be a message to terrorists near and far: if you conspire to kill Americans, we will find and kill you.”

Egyptian-born Al-Zawahri, succeeded Bin Laden following the latter's death in 2011, in a missions carried out by US Navy Seals in Pakistan.

The 71-year-old appeared in a video last year commemorating the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite rumours that he died months earlier.

According to the FBI's most wanted list, Al-Zawahiri had a £20.4 million bounty over his head.

It is not immediately clear who will succeed Al-Zawahiri as the leader of the terrorist group.

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