A commander of the ISIS affiliate in West Africa responsible for the October 2017 ambush that left four U.S. service members dead was killed in a French military operation in Mali on Sunday, French officials announced on Monday.
- Mohamed Ag Almouner, a top leader of the so-called ISIS in the Greater Sahara affiliate, was neutralized by an airstrike from two Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets followed by a French-led commando raid, France24 reports.
- Almouner, along with Doundoun Cheffou and Al Mahmoud ag Baye, was identified by the New York Times (citing U.S. military officials and government documents) as among the ISIS commanders responsible for the ambush that led to the death of four Army Special Forces personnel in Niger's Tongo Tongo region on October 4, 2017.
- The French military currently maintains around 3,000 ground troops, 20 helicopters, and a “half-dozen” fighter jets in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane, per Stars and Stripes, the French equivalent of America's Global War on Terror initiated in central Africa's Sahel region in 2014 following the country's 2013 intervention in Mali at the behest of the latter's interim government.
- When reached for comment by Stars and Stripes, U.S. Africa Command spokesman Maj. Karl Wiest stated that the command was “aware” of the operation, adding that AFRICOM “routinely works with our French partners in the Sahel region, who provide a bulk of the force with more than 4,000 military forces.”
- Three other people — another member of the ISIS affiliate and two civilians — were killed in the operation, the French defense ministry said in a statement. According to Reuters, France said it “regretted the civilians’ death.”