New Band Of ISIS Fighters Likely Behind Killing Of 4 Green Berets In Niger

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Islamic State elements in Niger are likely behind an Oct. 4 ambush on joint-U.S. patrol that killed four U.S. Green Berets and wounded two others, The Associated Press reports.

The band of extremists who attacked the soldiers were formerly identified with al-Qaida but more recently took up the banner of ISIS, and were new to the area, a U.S. officials told the AP. ISIS is not known to be particularly active in the area but does have a declared affiliate in the region.

The affiliate calls themselves the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and are led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi. Sahrawi has a long history with militant groups in Mali and at different times having associations with Al-Qaida, running his own militia, and finally pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in May 2015.

The ambush occurred “200 km north of Niamey, in southwest Niger” near the country’s border with Mali, U.S. Africa Command noted in an Oct. 5 statement.

The U.S has provided increasing assistance to the Nigerien security forces in recent years to prevent gains by two particular terrorist groups, Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Boko Haram largely operates out of nearby Nigeria while AQIM and ISIS in the Greater Sahara are located near the country’s border with Mali.

“US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, in their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in the region,” U.S. Africa Command spokesman US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo told CNN after the incident. “One aspect of that is training, advising and assisting the Nigeriens in order to increase their ability to bring stability and security to their people.”

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