The operation in the Greater Sahara ended with the death of a man that French officials called "enemy No. 1." Al-Sahrawi allegedly was the man who ordered the ambush attack in the Tong Tongo region that killed four U.S. service members in 2017, as well as other attacks that led to the deaths of French nationals and of thousands of African civilians.
Macron announced al-Sahrawi’s death and applauded the French effort, noting the impact al-Sahrawi’s death will have on future terrorist and extremist activity in the region.
"Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was neutralized by French forces," Macron tweeted. "This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel."
"The Nation is thinking this evening of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded," his statement continued. "Their sacrifice is not in vain. With our African, European and American partners, we will continue this fight."
The French government did not disclose how they identified al-Sahrawi, saying only that the operation had been executed weeks ago but that officials held off announcing its success until al-Sahrawi’s identity could be confirmed.
"This reinforces our determination to fight terrorism with our partners in the Sahel, with our American and European partners," French Defense Minister Florence Parly told reporters in Paris. "We will not leave the Sahel."
Military Chief of Staff Thierry Burkhard said that Al-Sahrawi was on a motorcycle with one other person when a drone strike hit him near the Niger Border on Aug. 17.
Rumors of the militant leader’s death had circulated for weeks in Mali, though authorities in the region had not confirmed it.
The White House, Pentagon and State Department did not return a Fox News request for comment.
France's head of foreign intelligence, Bernard Emie, estimated that several hundred jihadist fighters remain in the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.