A French army raid in Mali eliminated numerous terrorists including Amadou Koufa, a top Jihadist leader. Although the French military didn’t state it, such a precision raid would have to involve special operations forces. The French army announced that more than 30 terrorists were put out of action as a result of the operation, which took place in the Mopti region, in central Mali. The French army spokesperson, however, didn’t clarify if the above number includes killed as well as captured terrorists.

Amadou Koufa was the leader of the Massina Liberation Front (MLF). He began his career as a preacher before quickly becoming radicalised and leading the MLF into an effective six-year insurgency that has necessitated Western involvement.

What began as a small-scale rebellion in the barren desert of Northern Mali, quickly transformed into a full-blown insurgency that threatened to devour the whole of the country, and spill over into the neighbouring countries.

Days before the operation, Koufa had recorded a call-to-arms video alongside senior leaders of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, General François Lecointre, described the operations as highly complicated, involving numerous ground and air assets, plus the cooperation of the Malian military. It involved Mirage 2000 fighters, C-135 tankers, surveillance drones, and Tiger attack and Gazelle transport helicopters.

General Lecointre said, “Air strikes made it possible to achieve a stunning effect on the objective, then to exploit this action by helicopter assault and the ground engagement of the French military.” He added, “[The operation was] an additional success in the struggle led by the French armies alongside the Malian armed forces, those of the joint force of G5 Sahel and for security in Mali and the Sahel.”

The Sahel G5 refers to the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali. Along with France, these countries are participating in Operation Barkhane, which encompasses counterterrorism operations in the Sahel. Currently, the French military has deployed an approximate 4,500 troops to the West African country. Their main role there is to support the Malian government in its fight against Islamist terrorists. Alongside other NATO forces — to include American Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and Army Special Forces, Norwegian, Belgian, Canadian, and German SOF — French troops train, advise, and support their Malian counterparts. Their role, however — as shown by the operation — often transcends the advisory, and they participate in combat operations.

French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly said, “The operation seriously hurts a particularly brutal terrorist organization. It has repeatedly targeted civilians and symbols of the authority of the Malian state. The weakening of terrorist groups is essential to consider the return of public services, access to education, the gradual normalization of daily life.”