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(FreedomWire.org) – The White House said Monday it successfully conducted “a counterterrorism operation” over the weekend that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The operation, senior administration officials told reporters during a background call, was conducted at 9:48 p.m. Eastern time July 30 – or 6:18 a.m Kabul time July 31 – and carried out “by an unmanned aerial vehicle.” It was the result of several months of “careful, patient and persistent work,” one official added.

“We have multiple intelligence sources, via multiple methods, that have been able to confirm that this was al-Zawahiri and that we were successful in achieving our objective,” the official said, declining to detail specifics.

Zawahiri helped plan the 9/11 attacks and took over as the leader of Al Qaeda after the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, CNN reported.

Zawahiri also helped orchestrate multiple other attacks against U.S. targets over the years. A senior administration official described Zawahiri as “a significant Al Qaeda target” in a statement earlier Monday. Officials maintained that the air strike resulted in no civilian casualties.

Zawahiri and his family moved to a safe house in Afghanistan within the past year, and though it’s believed that he never left the compound, he would often hang out on a balcony, according to a senior administration official. Ultimately, the U.S. government was able to kill Zawahiri on July 30 as he was on that balcony, and none of his family members are believed to have died as a result of the air strike.

“His death deals a significant blow to al Qaeda,” the official told reporters, adding that the safe house “is now empty.”

The operation followed many months of research and planning, and the senior administration official explained that “only a very small group of officials were aware” of the intelligence and planning.

Biden received several briefings throughout the operation’s planning and ultimately had a final briefing July 25. The senior administration official cautioned that “we should not be surprised if” the former al Qaeda leader “filmed additional videos that may be released after his death.”

Biden gave remarks on the operation at the White House on Monday evening, which comes as the U.S. nears its one-year anniversary of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

(FreedomWire.org) – Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich managed to raise White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s hackles on Friday as she probed the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy in light of the Afghanistan debacle.

“This is now the second evacuation of Americans in the course of –” Heinrich began.

“It’s not actually an evacuation,” Psaki interrupted.

“To be clear, American citizens can depart Ukraine. There are means of departing Ukraine. This is not a country where we are at war, where we have tens of thousands of troops who have been fighting a war for 20 years. So it’s incredibly different,” she said.

“Correct. You are correct in that. But it’s the second time we’ve urged American citizens to get out of a country,” Heinrich said in reply, leading Psaki to cite a number of times the State Department has urged Americans to leave a country.

“But these are the two major events that have happened under this administration,” Heinrich pressed until Psaki again interrupted.

Then Heinrich got the chance to ask her question.

“What does the administration say to critics who are looking at these two events and questioning his administration’s foreign policy approach?” she asked.

“Who is questioning us? Give me names,” Psaki asked.

“Plenty of Republicans,” Heinrich replied.

“Like who?”

“I could name off any number of Republicans,” Heinrich said.

“I’d love to know a name,” Psaki fired back.

“Goodness. Mitch McConnell,” Heinrich replied.

Psaki then launched into an explanation of why the Afghanistan withdrawal was a success.

“OK. Well, here’s what I would say to Mr. McConnell: The president ended a 20-year war in Afghanistan — a war that had cost us thousands of American lives, billions, trillions of dollars, and was a failed enterprise after 20 years.

“He was the first president to do that after many of his predecessors failed to take exactly that step. We knew it would be complicated. We knew it would be challenging. He had the courage to get our troops out of there and end a 20-year war.

“This is entirely different because we are not ending a 20-year war. We are trying to prevent war here. We are trying to keep American citizens safe in Ukraine by encouraging them to depart, by providing them information about what the security circumstances are on the ground. And I think it’s important for the American public to understand the significant differences between these different scenarios,” Psaki said.

After avoiding to answer the question she was asked, she then just moved on to another reporter’s question.

(Freedomwire.org) – In a new interview, President Joe Biden proclaimed that he was unaware of an Army Intelligence report warning of the potential pitfalls of the withdrawal of United States troops in Afghanistan.

The host of the interview for NBC News that will air during Sunday’s Superbowl, Lester Holt, asked Biden about military leaders warning him and saying that the administration “ignored the handwriting on the wall.”

“Another described getting folks in the embassy ready to evacuate and encountering people who were essentially in denial of the situation. Does any of that ring true to you?” the host said.

“No. No. That’s not what I was told,” the president insisted.

“You were told that the U.S. administration officials were prepared, they knew it was time to get out?” the host said.

But Biden stumbled as he attempted to answer the question and not look inept and ridiculous.

“No, what I was told … no one told me that … look, there was no good time to get out. But if we had not gotten out, they acknowledged that we would have had to put a hell of a lot more troops back in. It wasn’t just 2,000, 4,000,” he said. “We would have had to significantly increase the number of troops and would be back in this war of attrition.”

Holt did his best to give the president a chance to answer again and actually address the question he was asked.

“I just want to clarify. Are you rejecting the conclusions or the accounts that are in this Army report?” he said.

“Yes, I am,” the president said.

“So they’re [the reports] not true?” the host pressed.

“I’m rejecting them,” the president said.

A report from Army intelligence claims that the White House and Senior Pentagon staff did not grasp how quickly the Taliban was gaining control in Afghanistan before they removed troops.

It said that the officials at the White House and Pentagon resisted efforts by military officials to prepare for the evacuation of its embassy personnel and Afghan allies weeks prior, The Washington Post reported.

An Army investigative report, numbering 2,000 pages and released to The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, details the life-or-death decisions made daily by U.S. soldiers and Marines sent to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport as thousands converged on the airfield in a frantic bid to escape.

Beyond the bleak, blunt assessments of top military commanders, the documents contain previously unreported disclosures about the violence American personnel experienced, including one exchange of gunfire that left two Taliban fighters dead after they allegedly menaced a group of U.S. Marines and Afghan civilians, and a separate incident in which U.S. troops killed a member of an elite Afghan strike unit and wounded six others after they fired on the Americans.

The investigation was launched in response to an Aug. 26 suicide bombing just outside the airport that killed an estimated 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members. But it is much broader, providing perhaps the fullest official account yet of the evacuation operation, which spanned 17 nightmarish days and has become one of the Biden administration’s defining moments — drawing scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats for the haphazard nature in which the United States ended its longest war.

Military personnel would have been “much better prepared to conduct a more orderly” evacuation, Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, the top U.S. commander on the ground during the operation, told Army investigators, “if policymakers had paid attention to the indicators of what was happening on the ground.” He did not identify any administration officials by name, but said inattention to the Taliban’s determination to complete a swift and total military takeover undermined commanders’ ability to ready their forces.