In the past few days, the French military successfully conducted two key operations in the Sahel, killing one terrorist group leader and capturing another.

French forces killed a senior al-Qaeda leader in an operation in northern Mali near the Algerian border on Wednesday. According to France’s Armed Forces Minister, Florence Parly, they had been hunting the terrorist for seven years.

“On June 3, the French armed forces, with the support of their partners, neutralized the emir al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdal and several of his close collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” Parly tweeted.

AQIM is one of the oldest al-Qaeda groups and has a long history of operation in North Africa. Droukdal, one of the longest serving terrorist leaders, led the group for more than 15 years.  He was one of their most experienced fighters and played a large role in the Islamist takeover of northern Mali before the French launched Operation Barkhane and drove them back. 

Droukdal was believed to have been hiding in the mountains of Algeria prior to this operation. AQIM has forces spread out over northern Mali, Algeria, Niger, and Mauritania. The UN said Droukdal was an explosives expert and constructed many devices that killed hundreds of civilians.

The U.S. military assisted the French special operations forces by providing intelligence that helped locate the target.

“U.S. Africa Command was able to assist with intelligence and [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] support to fix the target,” Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman for AFRICOM said. 

“This was a great example of cooperation and partnership to get after a common threat,” he added.