Zagazola - How French forces helped  Nigerien armed forces in combating terrorism

How French forces helped  Nigerien armed forces in combating terrorism

 

By: Zagazola Makama 

A document seen by Zagazola Makama has revealed  how the  effective partnership between  Niger and France  contributed to reducing the terrorists threat especially Boko Haram and ISWAP  in Lake Chad region in Niger at the request of the legitimate authorities of Niger.

 

Nigerien Military Authority on Saturday July 5, 2023, officially notified France of its decision to revoke military contracts between the two nations. This decision comes amidst heightened tensions and the aftermath of the coup in Niger. 

 

The documents reads; French forces have been working in partnership with the Niger Armed Forces (NAF) since 2019 to combat armed terrorist groups (ATG).

 

 It said "These actions covered combat support, intelligence, training and civil-military cooperation. In support of combat, the French armed forces supported the NAF in : Securing roads and areas,Escorting convoys,Air support with fighter and drone resources,Harassment of ATGs, Destruction of IEDs,Joint patrols, Area reconnaissance. 

"As part of their training, NAF received training in the following areas: Combating IEDs,Combat first aid, Shooting,Aerial guidance, French support has produced tangible results.

Thanks to joint actions, the NAF have been able to regain a foothold in the three-border area, previously abandoned to the ATG.

 

According to the document, In February 2023, the French army set up a support point in Tabarey-Barey, from which the NAF have been able to support their actions in a hitherto neglected area.This position and the patrols carried out in the area have led to a clear retreat by the ATG, who have been unable to carry out any actions in the area since the post was established.

 

"The Tiloa and Inates posts in northern Niger were to be substantially reinforced by the French armies.Poste de Tabarey-Barey At the request of the Nigerien partner, the French Air Force and Space Agency have carried out numerous missions to support ground troops, both in terms of reassurance and strikes on identified targets.



"The combination of support, construction of posts and direct support has enabled the pastoral population to return to a normal life, free from the predation of the ATG.

These successes are the fruit of close and beneficial cooperation between the NAF and the French army. 

 

"This partnership has been built up with the Niger forces on an equal footing, and has achieved real tactical success against the ATG.Niger is one of France's major partners, and France has been investing in Niger's security and development for a number of years.

"Recent examples of the combat partnership with Niger ; Since January 2023, 3 training sessions per week have been organized by the French elements in Niger for the NAF on air guidance (ATGA = advanced tactical air guidance). In March, the French elements in Niger supported the NAF through combat engineers.

 

" The missions of the engineers are to ensure the security of convoys and to intervene in the event of suspected booby traps or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). During Operation AGAB in May 2023, the French army's engineering section intervened at dangerous points identified by the NAF, and also explored potentially booby-trapped houses.

 

" In April, 30 paratroopers from BATPARA NAF underwent a 2-week training course with the 2nd REP. At the end of their training, as part of Operation AGAB, the BATPARA NAF, supported by elements of the 2nd REP, carried out an airborne operation in the Liptako region of Niger, some twenty kilometres south of the border with Mali. This operation enabled the NAF to retake a reinforced military post that they had not occupied for 2 years following an EIGS attack. 

 

"This joint airborne operation was carried out at the request of the head of the Niger operation ALMAHAOU.

- At the beginning of May, the ESIS (fire and rescue safety squadron) trained 12 Nigerian engineering officers in techniques for setting up hoses in pairs. 

 

"At the same time, 6 fire team leaders from Abéché were given fire training.

In May, 17 joint patrols were carried out in the Aguelal, Tillabery, Ouallam and Téra areas. At the end of 2022, after an initial phase of intelligence ATGhering and characterisation of the area of operation, elements of the Nigerien armed forces, accompanied by two French sub-groups, reconnoiter the Tin Gara, In Ates and Tongo Tongo regions, overrunning the terrorist networks surprised by the speed of the maneuver.

"French forces in Niger have systematically supported the NAF in their anti-terrorist operations: AGAB, MOUNA TARE, IMAGHAZZ, EGHAHANE. These operations have systematically resulted in the seizure and destruction of weapons, motorbikes and other ATG logistical equipment used to make IEDs. These operations also led to the recovery of cattle stolen by the ATG, which were returned to their owners.

 

"More generally speaking, when French troops were present in Mali and Burkina, they contributed directly to the fight against ATG. They did not arm or support ATG. Joint actions between the French military and partner armed forces have imposed serious blows to the EI-S and JNIM terrorist groups, reduced their freedom of action in the Three-border region and led to the arrest or neutralization of several members of the Islamic State in the Sahara (EIGS in the text), thereby weakening the command structures of the ATG command structures :Several dozen major leaders of RVIM and EIGS terrorist networks were put out of action.

 

"Several hundred jihadist fighters were neutralized. More than a hundred civilians were rescued in mass killings in African capitals (Ouagadougou and Bamako). Around fifteen hostages were freed in the sub-region.

"Examples of high value targets

- in December 2014, the neutralization of Ahmed El Tilemsi, a founding member of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Emir of Al Mourabitoune in Mali;

- in May 2015, the neutralisation of Amada Ag Hama alias "Abdelkrim le Touareg" and Ibrahim Ag Inawalen alias "Bana", two of the main leaders of AQIM and Ansar Eddine.

 

"On 21 February 2019, the leader of one of the main armed terrorist groups operating in the Sahel, Yahia Abou el Hammam, number two in the RVIM (Rally for the Victory of Islam and Muslims) was neutralized ; in October 2019, Abou Abderahman al Maghrebi, considered to be RVIM's number two and religious leader, was neutralized.

 

"On 3 June 2020, the neutralization of Abdelmalek Droukdel, "emir" of AQIM, after having captured the jihadist Mohamed el Mrabat, a major EIGS leader, on 19 May of the EIGS.

On 10 November 2020, Bah Ag Moussa, military leader of the RVIM, was neutralized; In June 2021, the EIGS suffered heavy losses among its leadership: Dadi Ould Chaib, leader of the group better known as Abou Dardar, and Sidi Ahmed Ould Mohammed, alias Khattab al-Mauritani, were captured, while Almahmoud ag Baye, alias Ikaray, an important EIGS leader, was neutralized;

 

"In July 2021, Issa Al Sahraoui, logistical and financial coordinator of the EIGS, and Abou Abderahmane Al Sahraoui, the second EIGS executive responsible for handing down judgements, were also neutralised. in August 2021, Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahraoui, "emir" of the EIGS, was neutralized; in October 2021, Oumarou Mobo Modhi, an important Ansarul Islam group leader, was neutralized;

 

"In October 2021, the neutralisation of Saghid ag Alrhroro, head of the Saryat Gourma and deputy of Abou Hamza al Chinguetti, Emir of Gourma for the RVIM; in December 2021, Soumana Boura, leader of the EIGS group and responsible for the murder of 6 French nationals in the Kouré park, was neutralized;in June 2022, the capture of Oumeya Ould Albakaye, a senior member of the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS).