Libya: Tunisian AQIM commander killed in Ubari airstrike

In the evening of July 25, an unknown aircraft conducted an airstrike that struck a vehicle in front of a house in the Al-Sharib district of Ubari. An area mainly inhabited by Libyan and Malian Tuareg. The airstrike briefly interrupted electricity and telecommunications. The air raid was initially assumed to have been carried out by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), considering recent U.S. action on March 24 in a nearby area of Ubari, an airstrike that killed two militants of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) including the Algerian senior commander Moussa Bourahla, known by his nom de guerre “Musa Abu Dawud”. However, AFRICOM denied responsibility for the latest airstrike in a communication to Airwars. U.S. denial strongly points to France as the author of the operation, taking into account previous action and its strategic interests in the region, although this has still not been confirmed.

Speculations have gone wild about the target of the airstrike and individuals killed. Some Libyan news outlets reported that six individuals including three Malians, two Algerians and a Libyan named as “Abu Laith al-Libi” had been killed, while others said that the deputy emir of Jama’ah Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin and the emir of AQIM’s Sahara Region, Yahya Abu al-Hammam (Djamel Okacha) had been targeted together with Katibat al-Furqan commander Talha al-Mauritani. A source close to AQIM acknowledged in a communication (published on Twitter by French researcher Romain Caillet) that Abu al-Hammam and Al-Mauritani were those targeted, although not present in Libya, but on Malian soil fighting the “occupying Crusaders”, the same source further indicated that the airstrike had been carried out by the United Arab Emirates. However, according to information received by MENASTREAM, there was only one individual killed in the Ubari strike, namely AQIM commander Ramzi Mansour, a Tunisian going by the nom de guerre Ramzi al-Tunisi, an aide of late Moussa Bourahla, killed in the previously mentioned airstrike by the U.S. in Ubari. Another Tunisian, late Al-Mourabitoun member Mokhtar Akkouri was killed in an airstrike in Gardhah al-Shati in November 2016.