An Islamic State affiliate recently launched a series of violent assaults in West Africa, according to a British military publication that monitors terrorism and insurgency.
Over the past two months, ISIS has killed more than 150 African troops in Niger, Jane's Defense Weekly reported. A Jan. 9 attack killed 89 soldiers, the publication said, noting that "the attack was the third major such operation since 10 December, with at least 174 Nigerien soldiers having been killed by militants operating under the Islamic State's Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyya during the period."
The attacks show the growing focus of ISIS on the Sahel region of Africa, and its loyalty to ISIS central leadership, the publication said.
The uptick comes at a time when the Pentagon is reviewing its deployments around the world and considering a possible drawdown of the roughly 7,000 U.S. troops in Africa.
“We’ve begun a review process where I’m looking at every theater, understanding what the requirements are that we set out for, making sure we’re as efficient as possible with our forces,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters in December. Esper said yesterday that no decisions have been made but confirmed that he wants to shift resources to focus more on “great power” competition with Russia and China.