Allied French and Malian forces killed 20 militants in an operation in a part of northern Mali where ISIS operates, a spokesman for the West African nation's military said on Sunday.
The operation in the district of Akabar, a remote part of a game reserve near the border with Niger and not far from the Malian city of Menaka, was continuing, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone said by telephone.
“Twenty terrorists have been neutralized," he said.
Mali has become increasingly engulfed in violence since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 was hijacked by extremist militants, prompting France to intervene to push them back the following year.
Several militant factions and allied criminal gangs have regrouped and set up operations in parts of Mali, from where they have launched attacks across the Sahel.
They also now have a significant presence in swathes of neighbor Burkina Faso, and in some remote parts of Niger.
Despite the deployment of 4,500 French troops meant to contain the violence in the Sahel, it has steadily worsened, and the extremists have succeeded in triggering an ethnic conflict.