Al-Qaeda leader
Ayman al-Zawahiri

New Delhi: The United States has killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike, President Joe Biden said on Monday.

“I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all,” Biden said.

Zawahiri was sheltering at downtown Kabul to reunite with his family, Biden said.

Officials said Zawahiri was on the balcony of a safe house when the drone fired two missiles at him.

The drone strike was conducted at 9:48 p.m. ET on Saturday was authorized by Biden following weeks of meetings with his Cabinet and key advisers, the official said on Monday.

He added that no American personnel were on the ground in Kabul at the time of the strike.

Biden said Zawahiri had “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens”.

“Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more,” he added.

Zawahiri, who just turned 71 years old, had remained a visible international symbol of the group, 11 years after the US killed Osama bin Laden, CNN reported.

At one point, he acted as bin Laden’s personal physician.

Zawahiri took over al-Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011. He and Bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks together and he was one of the US’s “most wanted terrorists”.

The strike comes one year after Biden ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, prompting Taliban forces to rapidly seize control of the nation.

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