French military forces announced Thursday they supposedly killed ISIS leader Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui in August. He claimed responsibility for shepherding the ambush-style murder of four US special forces soldiers in a 2017 attack in North Africa.
Army Sgt. David Johnson and Staff Sgts. Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson, and Dustin Wright perished in the 2017 attack. Four Nigerian troops were also killed alongside at least two American soldiers. Eight Nigerian soldiers were severely wounded as a result of the siege.
A drone strike targeted a motorbike carrying two passengers, including the ISIS leader, according to French minister for the armed forces Florence Parly.
He tweeted Thursday that military and intelligence agents had contributed to a "long-term hunt" for the ISIS-GS leader, which she described as a "decisive blow" for the group.
The US State Department designated ISIS-GS as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2018, and announced in 2019 a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of al Sahraoui.
French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed Thursday morning the assassination of al Sahraoui in West Africa.
In his announcement, Macron said, "Adnan About Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was neutralized by French forces. This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel."
"The nation is thinking this evening of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahael, in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded," he added: "Their sacrifice was not in vain. With our African, European, and American partners, we will continue this fight."
According to the French Ministry of Defense, France has 5,100 troops deployed across five countries in the Sahel region as of September, including Chad, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.