Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), was assassinated in the mission. Al Sahraoui claimed res
Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), was assassinated in the mission. Al Sahraoui claimed responsibility for an ambush of US forces in Niger in 2017, which killed four American soldiers.
In a press conference, Florence Parly, France’s armed forces minister, confirmed al Sahraoui died on Thursday.
He was involved in a strike on a motorbike carrying two people during the air and ground operation in Mali.
The operation took place between August 17 and 22, 2021.
The minister called it a “decisive blow” after a “long-term hunt” for the ISIS-GS leader.
Ms Parley also said: “The death of Sahrawi is a decisive blow to ISGS and its cohesion.”
French President Emmanuel Macron ahiled the news of al Sahraoui’s death.
He posted on Twitter: “This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel.”
Mr Macron also thanked the “heroes who died for France” in the post.
He also remembered families bereaved by ISIS-GS, insisting that “their sacrifice is not in vain”.
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ISIS-GS is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 2,000-3,000 people, mostly Muslims, according to France.
France also believes ISIS-GS still has hundreds of fighters, although Ms Parly said its leadership was now less international and more from the local Fulani tribe.
Ms Parly also added: “We have no information on a successor at this stage, but it probably won’t be easy to find a leader who has the same weighting than the one who was killed.”
The US offered reward of $5million (£3.6million) for information on al Sahraoui after the death of four US troops in Niger in 2017.
Bernard Emie, head of France’s external intelligence service, told reporters there would now be increased focus on neutralising Iyad Ag Ghaly, the head of al-Qaeda’s north African wing.
The group has carried out sporadic operations around the Ivory Coast and Senegalese border regions.
Alexandre Raymakers, senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft ,also said: “The death of Sahrawi will likely disrupt ISGS operations in the short-term.
“But it is unlikely to permanently cripple the extremist group.”
al Sahraoui was the head of ISIS-GS, a jihadist group that broke away from other militants in Mali in 2015 when it pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Since then, ISGS militants have spread into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
The militants carried out hundreds of deadly attacks on civilians and armed forces, and rendered large areas of West Africa’s arid Sahel region ungovernable.