(thedefensepost.com – Fergus Kelly) – French operations in Mali put 30 militants ‘out of action,’ as Barkhane builds Sahel Coalition coordination

Barkhane commando operations and airstrikes targeted Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked fighters in the tri-border area

French commando operations and airstrikes against groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Mali put 30 militants “out of action,” the Armed Forces Ministry said.

The operations come as the France-led Operation Barkhane builds command coordination with local partner forces in sub-Saharan Africa’s Sahel region, setting up dedicated coordination mechanisms for the new Sahel Coalition in Niger’s capital Niamey and Chad’s capital N’Djamena.

Operations against ‘terrorists’ in Liptako-Gourma

Between February 6 and 7, forces deployed to Operation Barkhane conducted an “operation of opportunity” which “resulted in the neutralization of some 20 terrorists and the destruction of several vehicles,” the ministry said, in a Friday, February 7 release.

A Reaper drone, a Mirage 2000 fighter jet patrol, a Tigre attack helicopter and a Cougar transport helicopter “took part in two targeted strikes in an area where terrorist fighters had been spotted,” it said.

The action was carried out “in the west of the Gourma” region, in an area where the “katiba is rampant,” the release said. The ministry did not give further detail, but the likely target was Katiba Macina, one of the constituent groups of JNIM, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Also this week, Barkhane forces continued operations in the Liptako, where two separate commando actions led to a dozen terrorists being “put out of action” in areas where “Islamic State in the Greater Sahara” is active, the release said, without giving further details.

French military spokesperson Colonel Frederic Barbry said that 10 militants were “neutralized” in the actions, AFP reported.

The French Armed Forces groups those killed, injured or taken prisoner under the terms “neutralized” or taken “out of action,” according to AFP.

The French operations are the latest against Islamist militant groups in the region.

On January 23, the ministry said more than 30 “terrorists” were put out of action in operations in the Liptako-Gourma region. Commando operations targeted Katiba Macina fighters in Mali’s Mopti region, while Islamic State fighters were struck by a drone further east, near the border with Niger.

On January 16, the ministry said more than 1,000 troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Barkhane had taken part in a joint operation in the Liptako-Gourma region since early January and that 15 “terrorists” were put out of action. A week earlier, it said more than 50 “terrorists” were put out of action in a series of operations conducted in Mali between December 20 and January 5. (…)


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Photo >>>  French troops deployed to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel prepare to board a Danish AW101 Merlin helicopter © État-Major des Armées, as published in ibid