French soldiers kill over 30 Islamist militants in Mali
According to France’s armed forces, soldiers of the French Barkhane force killed about 20 militants and destroyed several vehicles in the Gourma region. In the Liptako region, a stronghold of Islamic State, 10 more were killed.
Reuters reported that the operations involved a drone, warplanes and two helicopters.
Former colonial power France began its current military intervention in the Sahel in 2013 with Operation Serval in Mali. Serval evolved in August 2014 into Operation Barkhane, with a mandate for counterterrorism operations across the sub-Saharan region. Roughly, 4,500 French troops are already deployed, focusing activity in insurgent-hit Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
In December, French forces killed 33 Islamist militants in Mali using attack helicopters, ground troops and a drone near the border with Mauritania where a group linked to al Qaeda operates.
French troops work alongside other groups in the Sahel, including the regional G5-Sahel Joint Force, which comprises troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, and MINUSMA, the United Nations stabilization mission in Mali.
Last week, France said it planned to deploy 600 more soldiers in the fight against militants in the Sahel. The reinforcements would mostly be sent to the area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.