French forces have killed the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, according to the French government.
“Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was neutralized by French forces,” French president Emmanuel Macron announced on social media.
“This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” he continued.
“The Nation is thinking this evening of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded. Their sacrifice is not in vain. With our African, European, and American partners, we will continue this fight,” he vowed.
The French premier did not disclose any precise details of the operation, perhaps due to operational sensitivity, but Africa and in particular the Islamic regions of the Maghreb, comprising much of North Africa, and the Sahel, which spans Africa from the shores of the Atlantic to the Red Sea in a slim band stretching across the southern Sahara, has become a key theatre for global jihad.
La Nation pense ce soir à tous ses héros morts pour la France au Sahel dans les opérations Serval et Barkhane, aux familles endeuillées, à tous ses blessés. Leur sacrifice n’est pas vain. Avec nos partenaires africains, européens et américains, nous poursuivrons ce combat.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 15, 2021
France, as a former colonial power in the region, has been aiding anti-insurgency operations aimed primarily at Islamist movements for years, with the help of a small number of troops from Czechia, Estonia, and Sweden and logistical support from the British and some other Western allies, in what The New York Times has dubbed “France’s Forever War”.
Dozens of Frenchmen have been killed in the region, whether to enemy action or mishaps in the course of operations, as in late 2019 when a helicopter collision claimed the lives of 13 servicemen.