US airstrike kills al-Qaeda leader
US airstrike kills al-Qaeda's chief of suicide and explosive operations in Afghanistan US AIR FORCE via Reuters

A US airstrike has killed a top al-Qaeda commander who was in charge of the militant group's suicide and explosive operations in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.

In a statement in Washington, the US military said Abu Khalil al-Sudani was among three key militants who were killed in the aerial raid on 11 July.

The Pentagon said al-Sudani, a close aide of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was a high-profile "shura member", the Islamist organisation's top decision-making body.

"Al-Sudani was one of three known violent extremists killed in the strike. The death of al-Sudani will further degrade al-Qaeda operations across the globe," said the statement.

It is unclear whether the airstrike in Bermal district of Paktika province was carried out by a drone or a manned aircraft.

"He [al-Sudanu] also directed operations against Coalition, Afghan and Pakistani forces, and maintained a close association with Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's leader," said the Pentagon.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter added: "We will continue to counter violent extremism in the region and around the world, including efforts to deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL," referring to another acronym of Islamic State (Isis).

Although the US has scaled down its operations against Taliban militants, it is maintaining a modest offensive against al-Qaeda insurgents in the Afghan region.

The Obama administration is set to end its operations by the end of 2016 in the wake of increasing insurgency in the war-torn country.