The French military announced that its forces killed or captured at least 20 jihadists in near simultaneous raids in northern Mali yesterday as part of the ongoing Operation Barkhane. The raids occurred near the border of Mali and Algeria, close to the Algerian town of Tinzaouatene. The raids reportedly targeted senior commanders of al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM).
“During the night of February 13 and 14, 2018, French forces engaged in the Sahel carried out an operation on three objectives of armed terrorist groups in the northeast of Mali, between Boughessa and Tinzaouatene.
The operation began with simultaneous airstrikes on the objectives followed by helicopter assaults supported by Tiger helicopters and concluded with engagements on the ground. The balance sheet, provisional at this stage, is about 20 terrorists killed or captured, three vehicles destroyed, several weapons captured, and a large number of documents seized.”
A different military source told AFP that the raids were on a “base of the head of the network, Iyad Ag Ghaly, at Tinzaouatene, which was the main target of the operation.” Tinzaouatene has long been used as a rear base for Iyad Ag Ghaly’s Ansar Dine, which is now part of JNIM. AFP also confirmed that the French military had been conducting operations in that part of Mali for the past several days.