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French forces kill Islamic State in Sahara leader, al-Sahrawi, says President Macron

  • al-Sahrawi personally ordered the killings of a Nigerian driver and six aid workers in August 2020, 4 U.S. servicemen in 2017 and 4 Niger Republic personnel during a 2017 attack

French forces have killed the leader of the Islamic State in the Sahara, who was allegedly behind the killings of four U.S. service members in 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was neutralized by French forces. This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” Macron wrote.

Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, chef du groupe terroriste État islamique au Grand Sahara a été neutralisé par les forces françaises. Il s’agit d’un nouveau succès majeur dans le combat que nous menons contre les groupes terroristes au Sahel.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 15, 2021

“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,” Macron continued.

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

Macron did not provide details in his tweets on how the operation was carried out. The Associated Press reported that the Islamic State affiliate operates near the Niger-Mali border. 

Four U.S. military service members and four people associated with the military in Niger were killed during a 2017 attack, which al-Sahrawi acknowledged his role in. Additionally, Macron’s office said al-Sahrawi personally ordered the killings of seven people — a Nigerian driver and six charity workers — in August 2020, Reuters reported.

The news comes amid a trial in Paris for a separate Islamic State member, accused of involvement in a 2015 attack that claimed the lives of 130 people.

Describing his profession as a “fighter for the Islamic State,” Salah Abdeslam said the killings were “nothing personal” during his trial on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

“We fought France, we attacked France, we targeted the civilian population. It was nothing personal against them,” he said. “I know my statement may be shocking, but it is not to dig the knife deeper in the wound but to be sincere towards those who are suffering immeasurable grief.”

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