NATO Claims Killing of Afghan Commander Linked to Deadly U.S. Helicopter Downing

NATO said Thursday it had killed a Taliban commander who was linked to an operation that ended with the deaths of 30 American servicemen after their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

Qari Tahir was killed Tuesday in Wardak province in a precision air strike after being located along with an associate, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

"Tahir coordinated ambush attacks against Afghan forces and led fighters under his control to conduct hijackings of convoy vehicles. Additionally, he facilitated abductions and held his hostages for ransom," ISAF said.

The statement added, "Tahir was the Taliban's top leader in Tangi Valley and was the target of a previous combined operation on Aug. 5, 2011, that resulted in the loss of the CH-47 Chinook last month. He led a group of insurgent fighters throughout the valley and was known to use roadside bombs and rockets to intimidate the local populace."

No civilians were harmed in the strike, ISAF said.

The Americans' CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Wardak province, in eastern Afghanistan, apparently by a rocket-propelled grenade. U.S. forces later killed the insurgents responsible for the crash in an F-16 air strike.

The crash killed 38 people, including 30 Americans, 17 of whom were U.S. Navy SEALs. It was the biggest single loss of life for international forces in Afghanistan since the conflict began 10 years ago.

But U.S. Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, said at the time that the original Taliban target remained at large.

"We will continue to exploit that target. We will remain in pursuit," Allen said.

The remains of the soldiers were greeted by President Barack Obama, defense secretary Leon Panetta and other U.S. officials in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware when they returned home last month.