France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced, on Thursday, that leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahrawi, was killed by French forces.
Macron affirmed that it is another major success in their fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel.
“The nation is thinking tonight 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,” Macron said. “Their sacrifice is not in vain.”
Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, told reporters that al-Sahrawi died from injuries incurred following an airstrike carried out in late August.
“The death of Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahrawi is a decisive blow to Daesh’s leadership in the Sahel but also to its cohesion,” Parly emphasized, describing him as “the absolute leader of the ISGS and took all decisions.”
She said his death sparked a “deep destructuring” of the terror group as it will “no doubt have difficulties in replacing its emir with a figure of the same stature”.
Nevertheless, the minister asserted that the organisation remains structured around several key figures which still make it a threat.
Moreover, General Thierry Burkhard, Chief of Staff for the French Army, noted that the operation that neutralised al-Sahrawi was carried out from August 17 to 22.
Burkhard pointed out that it had been organised following the capture in mid-July of several ISGS fighters which had enabled French forces to identify several sites in which he was likely to have holed himself up.
He added that the operation involved special commando forces on the ground as well as aerial forces including fighter jets and drones.
The leader of ISGS died following a strike on a motorcycle with two passengers. About a dozen other ISGS figures were also neutralised during the operation.