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Islamic State leader in the Great Sahara killed by French forces

Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui is said to have been the mastermind of most attacks in the “three borders” region, a vast area spanning Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced this morning that the leader of the terrorist group “Islamic State in the Great Sahara” (EIGS), Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui, has been “neutralized” by French military forces.

“This is another great success in the fight we are conducting against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” wrote the French President on the social network Twitter.

In the message, Macron added that the country “thinks tonight of all its heroes killed by France in the Sahel in operations Serval and Barkhane, of the bereaved families, of all its wounded. Their sacrifice is not in vain.”

The EIGS leader “died after an attack by the Barkhane force,” wrote French Defense Minister Florence Parly on Twitter, hailing “a decisive blow” against the terrorist group.

The EIGS, created in 2015 by Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui, had been designated as a “priority enemy” in the Sahel at the summit in Pau (southwest France) in January 2020.

It is considered to be behind most attacks in the “three borders” region, a vast area that encompasses Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, among the poorest countries in the world.

In particular, he claimed the Tongo Tongo attack in October 2017 in Niger, near the Malian border, an ambush that led to the death of four US soldiers and as many Nigerians.

The region is a recurrent target of attacks by two armed jihadist groups, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, in its French acronym), associated with al-Qaeda.

At least 5100 French soldiers were deployed in this vast desert region, in operation Barkhane, from 2014, following operation Serval, launched in 2013 by then French President François Hollande, to prevent jihadist groups in northern Mali from taking control of the country.

Macron announced the end of Operation Barkhane in early June, saying the French presence “cannot replace” states in the region that “decided not to assume their responsibilities” and do not guarantee the security or public services on their territory.

Half a hundred French soldiers died on this mission, which costs France around one billion euros a year.

In announcing the reduction of French forces in the Sahel on June 10, Macron said that the fight against terrorism would be carried out by special forces structured around operations Takuba and EUTM Mali, with French participation.

Operation Barkhane also had seven fighter planes, 20 helicopters, five to eight strategic transport planes, 280 heavy combat vehicles, 220 light vehicles, and 400 logistics vehicles, according to the French Defense Ministry.

In addition to the fight against terrorism, the French strategy in the region also aimed to ensure that the countries of the so-called G5 Sahel (Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad) were able to guarantee their own security autonomously.

Source: with agencies

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