HomeNewsPhotos of Kabul house where al Qaeda chief is believed to have...

Photos of Kabul house where al Qaeda chief is believed to have been killed pop up

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CNN has identified the house in Kabul, Afghanistan; a so-called “poppy palace” surrounded by the homes of druglords and warmongers; that was hit by a Hellfire missile drone strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The identification was made by geolocating and verifying the authenticity of three photos circulating on social media since Sunday, in addition to utilizing archival, high-resolution satellite imagery.

Zawahiri was on the balcony when the strike took place, US President Joe Biden said in a Monday evening address. The house, located in the Sherpur neighborhood of the Afghan capital, is surrounded by several houses and buildings to its north, south, and west. Directly east of the house sits Omaid High School.

Just under 1,000 feet to the southeast of the house sits the United Kingdom’s embassy in Kabul. According to the British Foreign Office, all diplomatic and consular staff are “temporarily withdrawn” from the country.

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A resident living close to the area, who heard a loud explosion on Sunday after 6 am, told CNN that Taliban fighters continue to spread in the area. The strike “jolted” his own house, the resident said.

The Sherpur area of Kabul was an old military base, but during the years of civil conflict and the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, it was left almost unused. In 2003, the Afghan Defense Ministry abandoned it and the government divided it into more than 50 plots, giving them to powerful people including government ministers and other high-ranking officials, and warlords and drug lords. Their houses soon gained the nickname “poppy palaces.”

It’s unclear who owns the house where Zawahiri was killed or whether it is one of those confiscated houses. On Tuesday, a green tarp could be seen draped over the balcony area, where the missile strike appears to have occurred.

Journalists attempting to gain access to the location throughout Tuesday were blocked from the main and side roads, a journalist told CNN.

Civilians on bicycles, motorcycles, and cars were all also blocked from entering, the journalist said.

Zawahiri was sheltering in downtown Kabul to reunite with his family, Biden said and was killed in what a senior administration official described as “a precise tailored airstrike” using two Hellfire missiles.

The strike, which took place at 9:48 p.m. ET on Saturday and in the early hours of Sunday morning in Kabul, was authorized by Biden following weeks of meetings with his cabinet and key advisers.

It took out the 71-year-old al Qaeda leader who at one time acted as Osama bin Laden’s physician, and who rose to the top of the terrorist organization after US forces killed bin Laden in 2011.

Before he gave the order to kill the terrorist leader, Biden wanted to intimately understand the vicinity in which he was hiding. Among the preparations was a small-scale model of Zawahiri’s safe house, constructed by intelligence officials and placed inside the White House Situation Room for Biden to examine as he debated his options.

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