France says its forces have killed an ISIS commander who planned and carried out a deadly attack on U.S. Special Forces soldiers in Africa.
The targeted ISIS leader, Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, had claimed responsibility for the ambush that led to the deaths of four Special Forces troops in North Africa in 2017. In addition to the deaths of Army Sgt. David Johnson and Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson, and Dustin Wright, four Nigerian troops were also killed. At least two more American soldiers and eight Nigerian troops were wounded, reports said.
Al-Sahraoui had a $5 million bounty on his head.
The terrorist was the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS). French officials said he was targeted in a drone strike.
Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said that al-Sahraoui was on a motorcycle with another person when he was targeted during a French-led operation in Mali. He would later succumb to his wounds following the strike, CNN reported.
She said the operation took place between 17-22 August.
Earlier Thursday she tweeted that the country’s military and intelligence agencies were involved in what was a “long-term hunt” for the leader of ISIS-GS, whose death she claimed is a “decisive blow” for the terrorist organization.
French President Emanuel Macron also highlighted the operation, which he called “another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” the region of North Africa where the operation took place.
Al Sahraoui formed ISIS-GS after breaking away from another group, al-Murabitun, which is associated with al Qaeda, both of which are also present in Africa.
The terrorist leader claimed responsibility for the 2017 ambush; the following year, the State Department declared his group a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and in 2019 announced that a $5 million bounty had been levied for information leading to his capture.
According to a French government statement, al Sahraoui was liable for “cowardly and particularly deadly” attacks on both civilians and military forces in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. In August 2020, the statement added, he “personally ordered” the murders of a half-dozen French humanitarian workers, their driver, and their guide.
In June, Macron announced an end to the deployment of French forces in the Sahel region under the auspices of “Operation Barkhane,” with the objective of gradually turning over the multinational mission. That would mean a “profound transformation” of the presence of French troops in the Sahel, he noted June 10.
As of September, the French Ministry of Defense noted that the country has 5,100 troops deployed in five countries in the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, CNN reported.
The network added that an incoming international force under the Takuba Task Force will consist of additional military forces from Europe that will be led by France. They will advise, assist, and accompany Malian Armed Forces in the region, Macron said. His troops will make up the “backbone” of the international force, complemented with special forces troops from European nations and partner countries in the Sahel.
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