Sources on the ground in northern Mali told El-Khabar however ,that the military reinforcements that are being sent do not necessarily indicate that a major operation will be launched against al-Qaeda there, for several reasons. Chief among these is the lack of field intelligence about the sites and movements of the armed groups. Also, despite the security forces’ knowledge of the region in which these terrorists move across northern Mali, the fact remains that these areas are so vast geographically that it is impossible to encircle them and move in on these groups unless huge numbers of troops are deployed, and this cannot be currently afforded.
A related source said that the army is in the process of establishing new military bases and a new air base along the far southern border, near the main region where terrorist groups are active. These bases aim to increase the Algerian air force’s planes and combat helicopters there for greater coverage of the desert areas adjacent to the Algerian border where terrorists move, all the while intensifying the military presence in these locations. The Army Command has adopted new tactics in dealing with criminal and terrorist groups trying to infiltrate Algeria from the territory of Azawad, northern Niger and Mauritania. These consist of combining the work of static and fortified observation posts with the reconnaissance forces and aerial surveillance, whilst allocating 3,000 military members for air bases to serve as intervention forces that can be transported via helicopter and large military aircraft.
Sources involved in the anti-terrorism efforts exerted in the Sahel said that the current strategy has proven to be very efficient in controlling the eastern border with Libya, and the military command is working to intensify its air-force activity in the Algerian, Malian and Mauritanian border areas. A senior security source revealed that Algeria transported additional fighting planes and helicopters to the region, and that it established an air-operations command specializing in logistical transport and supply operations in the south, in addition to airborne commando units tasked with tracking terrorist groups. The Sahel countries decided to support and arm militias to counter terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and MUJAO. Despite official reservations, unofficial sources told El-Khabar that one of the closest aides to the terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar is a member of this armed group, which attracts Algerian and foreign Islamists and terrorists, in addition to Bedouin Arab and Taref tribesmen who are not content with the current situation. According to the available information, the Malian consul in Tamanrasset, Abdul Rahman Qala — who belongs to the Taref tribe of Shananas — is a supporter of this initiative, which aims to form a mixed militia of nomads and operate in the rugged areas of Tigherghar, Tderlan and Azakirt in northern Mali, as well as Otslamn, Ozzkrn and Akads in northern Niger. These sites, along with the heights of Ifoghas and Wade Zurak, are among the most important sites witnessing terrorist movements. The commanders of the Sahel armies hope that this initiative will corner the terrorists using non-regular troops that live and move in the same locations as the AQIM supporters.