Thirteen French troops killed in Mali helicopter crash

Wednesday, 27 Nov, 2019

French troops intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 after radical jihadists took over parts of the country. But on Tuesday, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said support from European allies was valuable.

The Tiger attack helicopter and Cougar military transport collided mid-air on Monday when they were supporting ground forces engaging insurgents near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger.

He expressed his support for the French military and stressed the "courage of the French soldiers" fighting the persistent Islamic threat in the Sahel region.

General Francois Lecointre, speaking alongside Parly, said the "black box" flight data recorders had been recovered from both aircraft.

"These 13 heroes had only one goal: to protect us", President Macron wrote in a tweet. "He bows to the grief of their families and their loved ones".

The president honored the memory of the deceased - six officers, six non-commissioned officers and a corporal.

Lawmakers in France's National Assembly will hold a minute's silence later on Tuesday.

Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in the violence.

But almost three years after its launch, the G5 Sahel remains perennially underfunded, hobbled by poor coordination and leaving much of the onus on Paris.

And while Britain has provided helicopters and security personnel, and the USA offers intelligence support and funding, Paris has failed to convince European Union allies to contribute significant troops to the Sahel fight.

Reports from the region suggest that the security situation has grown worse in this area that France is trying to stabilize. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe defended military operations in The Sahel, saying That "wiThout The ability to face The enemy. we can not guarantee, on anoTher hand, The essential work of political stabilization and economic development".

The French president's office did not also disclose how the crash occurred.

It was the heaviest loss for the French army since the 1983 attack on the Drakkar building in Beirut, in which 58 paratroopers were killed.

Belonging to a mosaic of groups from al-Qaeda to Islamic State and Ansarul Islam, the jihadists have exploited ethnic divisions and a feeling of abandonment to enmesh themselves in local communities.

France has had an interest in the Sahel since the colonial era, when the territory of French West Africa encompassed Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.