France reaffirms its commitment after the deaths of two soldiers

“There is no question of lifting the guard,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on Sunday, reaffirming France’s commitment to fighting terrorism in Mali. The day before, two soldiers from the French force in the Sahel, Barkhane, were killed.

Two French soldiers lost their lives on Saturday, September 5, during an operation in the Tessalit region of northern Mali. The two soldiers died after their armored vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device, Elysee announced in a statement. A third soldier was injured in the attack.

“The President of the Republic bows with deep respect to the victims of these soldiers from the First Regiment of Hussar paratroopers in Tarbes, died for France in the fulfillment of their mission against terrorism in the Sahel,” added Élysée, who at the family’s request did not publish the name of one of the two killed the soldiers.

“The three members of the vehicle were seriously injured and immediately rescued,” was specified shortly after the French army personnel. Two have failed for their injuries, and “the comrade’s condition is stable, but his vital prognosis remains reserved.”

On Sunday, September 6, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that France intends to continue its military operations in Mali.

“There is no question of lifting the guard,” he told France Inter. “We are making progress, we are here to defend our security,” he added.

A position shared by Army Minister Florence Parly on Saturday, September 5, in a press release praising soldiers “who have reached the end of their commitment”: “In the Sahel, France is and is still engaged (…) in this relentless struggle against armed terrorist groups “.

Forty-five French soldiers killed in the Sahel

According to the Director-General, this report reaches the number of French soldiers killed in combat in 45 in connection with Operations Serval (2013) and Barkhane (since August 2014), which has about 5,000 soldiers. In November 2019, France had lost 13 in an accident between two helicopters in operation in Mali.

Mali: two French soldiers killed in an explosion

In recent months, the French army and African countries in the G5 Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) have intensified their offensive, especially in the area known as the “three borders” between Mali, Niger. and Burkina Faso.

They demanded the “neutralization” of dozens of jihadists, including Al-Qaeda’s emir in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), the Algerian Abdelmalek Droukdal, in June. With a few exceptions, the French army never specifies whether it has killed or arrested jihadist fighters, preferring the generic term “neutralization”.

Two French soldiers killed in Mali: “Al-Qaeda is the most powerful terrorist group in the Sahel today”

Six months after the Pau summit, during which the leaders of the G5 Sahel and France tried to close the gap on the jihadists, Emmanuel Macron and his African counterparts reaffirmed their determination in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

But the political crisis in Malin has redistributed the cards considerably and the new situation is not yet known.

Some concern has arisen in France since the coup led by a group of colonels against Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who had been in power for seven years.

In his press release, French President Emmanuel Macron called for “the immediate establishment of a civilian political transition in Mali (…) an absolute quantity for an effective fight against terrorism”.

“This coup is a major difficulty in achieving results,” a senior French military official recently acknowledged.

“It’s a little disappointing,” he admitted. “We must not lose what we have gained in terms of security and quickly find a political solution. If we can not maintain the pace of security, it is a step backwards. The junta agrees.”

However, the French army assures us that the operations on the ground and the cooperation between Barkhane and the Malian forces have so far had no consequences after the coup.

On Saturday, national consultations on the transfer of Mali to Bamako were held without the ex – uprising dominated by Tuareg, due to non-compliance with the junta, at the initiative of this conclave on the methods of restoring civilian power.


With AFP and Reuters