Mullah Abdul Manan was killed with 32 others by an airstrike on Saturday as he met local commanders and fighters in Nawzad district in Helmand province, provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said.
He was the “shadow governor” of Helmand province – the largest supplier of Afghanistan’s opium crop – for the insurgent group and headed up the Taliban’s southern Afghanistan command.
His death was confirmed by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid who said it was a “big loss” for the group.
The US military also confirmed his death, adding that Afghan forces had gone on the offensive with US support.
Colonel Dave Butler, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said: “They’re going to have trouble intensifying the fight when their fighters and leaders are under constant assault.
Pictures claiming to be of Manan’s body were being circulated on social media.
Mullah Manan was held in a Pakistani prison until 2013, when he was finally released by Pakistani government in an attempt to restart the peace process in Afghanistan, in coordination with U.S. and Afghan government. However, since his release, he was rumored to be against any peace talks until the exit of foreign forces.