Several executives of the jihadist group Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS) have died or have been captured in recent weeks by the French force “Barkhane” and its partners, announced Friday, July 2, the French Minister of the Armies, Florence Parly, in the time when Paris is preparing to reduce its military apparatus in the region.
The minister also implied that the cooperation of the French military with the Malian forces, suspended after the second coup d’état in May in Bamako, could soon resume. “We are working on a rapid resumption of this cooperation”, she confided during a meeting with the Association of Defense Journalists. In the meantime, the jihadist organizations that are rife in the Sahel continue to lose leaders, she said.
In accordance with rumors which have multiplied in recent weeks, Abdelhakim al-Sahraoui, “Very media figure of the EIGS known for its very strict application of Sharia law” and his beheading videos, recently died, said Florence Parly: “We have received confirmation that he died in May under circumstances still unknown. “
In addition, as part of an operation led by “Barkhane”, Nigerien soldiers and the European “Takuba” task force, in June, in the Nigerien and Malian parts of the vast region of Liptako, two lieutenants of the emir of the EIGS Adnan Abou Walid Sahraoui were taken prisoner: Sidi Ahmed Ould Mohamed, alias Katab al-Mauritani, and Dadi Ould Chouaib, alias Abou Dardar – whose capture had already been announced. In the process, six jihadists were “Neutralized”, specified the minister, whose Tuareg cadre of EIGS Almahmoud Al Baye, alias Ikaray, presented as the “Leader of a group of combatants in the Ménaka region, on the border with Niger”.
In early June, France had already announced that it had eliminated Baye Ag Bakabo, a cadre of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group responsible for the death, in 2013, of two French journalists. A fate also reserved in November 2020 to Ba Ag Moussa, described as the “Military leader” of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), affiliated with Al-Qaeda. In June 2020, Paris also killed the historic leader of AQIM, the Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdal.
France is preparing to begin a gradual disengagement from the Sahel. The “Barkhane” force (5,100 men at present) will disappear in favor of a system refocused on the fight against terrorism and support in the fight of local armies. But “This transformation does not mean leaving the Sahel, nor that we are going to slow down our counterterrorism operations” in the region, underlined Mme Parly. “We, Europeans, have a collective responsibility for securing the southern flank of Europe. It is essential not to allow the Sahel and Africa more broadly to become a zone of refuge and expansion for these terrorist groups affiliated with Daesh. [acronyme arabe de l’EI] and Al Qaeda », she asserted.
To reduce the sails in the Sahel, France is counting a lot on the rise of the group of European special forces “Takuba”, created at its initiative to accompany the Malian units in combat and a contingent of which will march on July 14 in Paris. “Takuba” today brings together 600 men, half of them French, Estonians, Czechs, Swedes and Italians. Romania has also committed to participate. “Today, we do not see any inflections, reluctance or questioning linked to the situation” policy in Mali, assured the minister, estimating “All the more important as we consolidate” Takuba “as we see it a major role in the coming years”.