Monday, March 19, 2018

Tuareg in Mali alliance claims recovery of US Special Forces vehicle from Niger ambush

The Tuaregs (nomadic Arabs of Northern Mali)Imghad and Allies Self Defense Movement (GATIA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) alliance claims its fighters have recovered a vehicle used by US Special Forces from last October’s deadly ambush in northern Niger. Four US Special Forces soldiers and several Nigerien troops were killed in an attack by the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

According to these Tuareg groups, its forces recovered one of the vehicles used by the US soldiers through recent clashes with ISGS in northern Mali’s Gao region near the borders with Niger. Two rifles supposedly used by the soldiers were also reportedly recovered from the Islamic State-loyal militants. Photos of the vehicle and weapons were also released.

The Tuaregs, while being Muslims and of Arab desacent, are largely not supportive of the radical brand of al-Qai'da or Islamic State inspired Sharia law. Some Tuaregs have fought briefly for extremist Islamist groups, but their overall focus is some sort of autonomy or indpendence from the Black-African controlled Malian government in the South.

The Long War Journal cannot independently verify the claims, but they came after Islamic State supporters uploaded a video of the ambush. The footage was largely from a captured US helmet cam. The vehicle, shown above, matches one of the vehicles seen in the video. The US Department of Defense has released a harsh statement regarding the bloody video, saying “you are complicit in amplifying ISIS propaganda” if you view or share it.

GATIA and MSA first reported offensives against ISGS militants in February. The clashes have continued, with the two groups claiming to have killed or captured dozens of ISGS fighters. Additionally, RFI reported French forces have also conducted joint operations with the Tuareg groups. The Islamic State-loyal forces led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi, referred to as “Islamic State in the Greater Sahara” (ISGS), have been linked to several attacks in the Tillabery region of Niger, the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, and in the Gao region of Mali. Aside from the attack on US Special Forces in Niger, ISGS is also responsible for suicide bombing on French troops in the Gao region earlier this year.

Article is from The Long War Journal, 14 March 2018

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