France to examine strategic options in Sahel after losing 13 soldiers

France is reconsidering its strategy in the Sahel after it lost 13 French soldiers in a collision of two helicopters on a combat mission this week.

French president ordered the review of operations against IS in the Sahel. “Our mission there is important. Nevertheless, the situation we face compels me today to examine all our strategic options,” Macron said.

“France is acting in the Sahel on everyone’s behalf. Our mission there is important. Nevertheless, the situation we face compels me today to examine all our strategic options,” Macron told reporters after talks with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“In this context, and depending on the decisions that France will have to take, a greater involvement of allies is obviously something that would be quite beneficial,” he said.

He urged for a joint European action in the Sahel in defense of Europe’s “collective security.”

The crash earlier this week brought the death toll to a total of 41 since former president Francois Hollande sent forces to free the Malian City of Timbuktu from Islamist extremists in January 2013.

It is the largest number of casualties suffered by the French military in a single day since 19 died in an air-crash in Djibouti in 1986. A suicide bomb attack in Beirut in 1983 killed 58.

General Francois Lecointre said France’s military role in the Sahel region south of the Sahara was “useful, good and necessary”, but it was hard to see the moment when the war would finally be won.

“We will never achieve a definitive victory,” Lecointre, chief of staff of the armed forces, told France Inter radio.

The ISIS group claimed responsibility for the two helicopters collusion, but France rejected the claim, saying the crafts were not hit by any attack.

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