France has confirmed that 13 of its soldiers have been killed in a collision between two helicopters in northern Mali. In a statement, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the soldiers had been killed during an operation against jihadists in the north African nation.
It marks the largest single loss of French troops since the country intervened in Mali in 2013 to try ti root out the Islamic fighters allied to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS).
Macron said that the six officers, six ‘sous’officiers’ – or ‘sub officers’, and a corporal were killed during an operation against jihadists.
The helicopters, a Tigre and a Cougar, collided as they provided air support to soldiers on the ground that were tracking militants.
France has 4,500 troops stationed in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane, where it is fighting jihadists allied to the Islamic State militant group (IS).
It followed a campaign in 2013, Operation Serval, that targetted Tuareg rebels and Islamist fighters based in Mali’s northern desert. Reports suggest that misiles fried from the ground might hit the helicopters.
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