Mali: How the Islamic State outfoxed rivals in Talataye

APA-Bamako To win the battle of Talataye on September 6, the Islamic State in the Sahel outhought its rivals, including the local branch of al-Qaeda. From September 6 to 8, 2022, the Islamic State in the Sahel, formerly known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, occupied Talataye, a village in the Ansongo circle, 1,283 kilometres northeast of the Malian…

APA-Bamako (Mali) To win the battle of Talataye on September 6, the Islamic State in the Sahel outhought its rivals, including the local branch of al-Qaeda.

From September 6 to 8, 2022, the Islamic State in the Sahel (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), occupied Talataye, a village in the Ansongo circle, 1,283 kilometres northeast of the Malian capital Bamako.

The short-lived occupation of the village followed heavy fighting between the jihadist group and its rival al-Qaeda insurgents in the Islamic Maghreb, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), as well as pro-government Tuareg militias to the east and west of the village in Mali’s northern region of Gao.

In issue 356 of its weekly magazine “Al Naba” (The News, in Arabic) published last week, the IS reported on the assault painting the picture of “a fierce battle that broke out from noon until evening” between “soldiers of the Caliphate” and “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militia in the west of the village” and “Azawad militias in the east.”

The propaganda weekly claimed that more than 60 members of “Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Azawad militias” were killed during the offensive.

A war booty of weapons and ammunition was also displayed by the jihadist group on page 5 of its magazine.

The operation is evidence of the deteriorating security situation in northern Mali, which has been facing a jihadist insurgency for the past decade.

In recent months, the Islamic State affiliate in the Sahel, which was supposed to be weakened after the elimination of its founder, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, and several of his lieutenants, as well as the capture of some of its leaders by the French army’s Operation Barkhane in the Ménaka region, has regained influence on the ground.

In early 2022, the jihadist group carried out attacks in this region, killing several hundred civilians.

In its quarterly note for January 1 to March 31, 2022, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reported armed clashes between elements of the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) and the Imaghad and Allied Self-Defence Group (GATIA), and attacks on civilians in several parts of Andéramboukane.

Following this logic, the EIS goaded its GSIM enemies with whom it has been in conflict for several months in the Sahelian zone, into a trap during the battle of September 6.

According to information received by APA, the EIS has implemented a strategy to “dismantle” the GSIM, which seemed to be in strength since the last confrontation between the two groups in Talataye.

“They attracted the GSIM to the north-east of Ménaka, forcing it to send part of its Talataye force, made up solely of locals (Daoussahak Tuaregs), to this area,” a security source told APA.

According to the same source, this explains the clashes of August 26 between the two armed groups in Tadjadod, north-east of Ménaka.

After this clash north-east of Ménaka, our source added, the EIS made the GSIM believe that it would take revenge by attacking Tidarmène and Tejerert.

The AQMI affiliated jihadists fell for it by deploying personnel from the north-east of Ménaka towards Emis-Emis.

At the same time, the EIS had already decided to mobilise its fighters in Indélimane, a little south of Talataye, where an attack strategy had been decided since September 4.

Forty-eight hours later, the assault was launched in the south, east and west of Talataye held by the GSIM, the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA-D, Daoussahak tendency).

These movements’ setbacks against EIS were due to the fact that they did not fight together.

The Malian army contented itself with reconnaissance flights carried out by an SU-25 recently acquired within the framework of its cooperation with Russia.

Two days after occupying the village of Talataye, the EIS jihadists, who lost about 20 fighters, retreated to Indélimane, leaving behind a ghost village.

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