UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The bodies of 13 French soldiers have returned home after two helicopters collided Monday during an operation against jihadists in Mali, the army chief said on Sunday.
“The bodies are in France,” spokesman Frederic Barbary told AFP, without giving further details.
Their comrades had a farewell tribute to them at the Gau base before a military plane transported the 13 coffins to France.
“Gao, the last farewell of our comrades who died in Mali for France,” said a tweet to the French Chief of Staff.
The coffins were covered with the French flag, and a soldier raised the brigade of the French-led Operation Barkhan to combat jihadists in the Sahel.
Thirteen soldiers were killed in two helicopter crashes during a military operation against jihadists that shocked France, whose military has suffered no heavy casualties since the 1983 bombing of French headquarters in Beirut that killed 58 people.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he intends to reconsider the strategy of the French anti-terrorism forces in the Sahel region, which is witnessing an explosive security situation, calling on European countries to support France more.
The French-led operation Barkhan in the Sahel has 4,500 troops, but six years after France’s continued presence, jihadists are still active in northern Mali and have spread to the center of the country and to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
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