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Daesh Offshoot Claims Responsibility for Infamous Niger Ambush

© AP Photo / WPLG / Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger, upon his body's arrival in Miami
Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger, upon his body's arrival in Miami - Sputnik International
A fledgling Islamic militant group that has declared itself an offshoot of Daesh has taken responsibility for the notorious October ambush in Niger that left four American and four Nigerien troops dead.

Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, a known member of the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS), told the Mauritanian Nouakchott News Agency they were responsible for the attack. Nouakchott has relayed messages from Islamic militant groups in the past.

The statement also corroborates a Pentagon claim from late October that Daesh was behind the ambush, which sparked significant controversy in the US. Many Americans were surprised to learn that the US had 800 soldiers stationed in Niger, a nation that otherwise is rarely discussed by American outlets.

Nouakchott News Agency added that ISGS claimed responsibility for several other attacks, including a Thursday assault on a French military convoy in neighboring Mali that injured three French soldiers. The statement did not include an explanation as to why ISGS waited three and a half months to claim responsibility.

In this image provided by the US Air Force, a US Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Ga., late Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga., was one of four US troops and four Niger forces killed in an ambush by dozens of Islamic extremists on a joint patrol of American and Niger Force. - Sputnik International
Nigerien Soldier Contradicts Pentagon’s Claims About Ambush

The October 4 ambush occurred along the border between Niger and neighboring Mali, about 120 miles from the Nigerien capital of Niamey. A dozen US soldiers were accompanying 30 Nigerien soldiers in a sortie searching out a local Islamic militant, although the Pentagon has refused to disclose the specifics of the US mission.

The militants sprang an ambush on the US-Niger troops, opening fire on them with machine guns and destroying their vehicles with rocket-propelled grenades. The battle ended when French air support stationed in Mali arrived, sending the militants into retreat.

US Africa Command launched an investigation into the bloody incident, a rare casualty for US forces in Africa. After the incident, reports surfaced that the perpetrators were a new offshoot of Daesh that has sprung up in Mali: the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, or ISGS.

Myeshia Johnson kisses the casket of her husband Army Sgt. La David Johnson during his burial service for at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida - Sputnik International
Reports Say US Soldier Fought Till End in Niger Ambush

The US fields an 800-strong force in Niger whose primary mission is to launch reconnaissance drone missions from the capital city of Niamey and provide support and assistance to Nigerien counterterror efforts — not engage militants in firefights.

Al-Sahraoui is a known Islamic militant who reportedly joined al Qaeda in 2010 and specializes in bankrolling operations by taking foreigners as hostages and holding them for ransom. He left al Qaeda in 2012 and swore fealty to Daesh's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2015. He has alternatively been described as ISGS' leader and its spokesman, possibly both.

Unusually, al-Sahraoui's statement was not featured on any of the official websites of the terrorist group.

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