The Islamic State group’s division in the Greater Sahara, whose boss was killed last month by French forces, is able to recover and will not abandon its jihadist fight, a French general warned on Friday.
Speaking in Ouagadougou, Laurent Michon, who heads up France’s Barkhane operation, which battles jihadists across the arid expanses in the Sahel region of western Africa, said the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) would continue to terrorise.
“Even it is very disorganised, the ISGS will be able to recover little by little, and will not abandon its fight of predation, exaction and terrorist totalitarianism and sowing terror,” Michon said after meeting Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
The head of ISGS, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, was one of two people killed by a drone strike on a motorbike around Indelimane in northern Mali in mid-August.
France announced his death on Thursday, having only just confirmed Sahrawi’s identity.
Michon said his death was “a real collective satisfaction”, adding he was thinking of “the people who for years were victims in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso”.
The French military has killed several high-ranking members of ISGS under its strategy of targeting jihadist leaders since the start of an intervention in Mali in 2013.
But in June this year, President Emmanuel Macron announced a major scaleback in the Barkhane force after more than eight years of military presence in the Sahel region to refocus on counter-terrorism operations and supporting local forces.