Former rebel groups in northern Mali on Monday launched joint military operations against Islamic State group militants (IS) that have killed hundreds of local residents and displaced thousands, French public broadcaster RFI reported.
The groups, under the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), have also declared war on the recently launched alliance between the al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and a section of Coordination of Movements of the Azawad (CMA) who aim to jointly fight IS.
The CSP have pledged their allegiance to Mali’s transitional authorities and have downplayed reports of tensions between the groups and the armed forces (FAMa).
“We will go wherever the Islamic State commits massacres to secure civilians and their property and to secure the movements of displaced persons,” an official with one of the groups said.
About 380 vehicles and nearly 2,500 men have been mobilised by the groups with an aim of defending the region against jihadists who have been accused of carrying out deadly attacks against civilian targets, according to the report.
The coalition decided to launch joint operations after FAMa and Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group failed to take part in operations against the IS militants despite their presence in Menaka, Gao region.
It added that the armed groups will also be pursuing other objectives in the search for peace and stability in northern Mali, including joint patrols.