A horrifying accident took place Monday night over an Islamic State stronghold in Miami when two French military helicopters collided midair, killing 13 soldiers.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep sadness” at the crash, stressing the “courage of the French soldiers” in what he called the “hard fight against terrorism” in the West African Sahel. The 13 soldiers had only one goal, Macon said: “To protect us.”
Treize de nos militaires sont morts hier au Mali. Ils étaient engagés dans une opération de combat contre des terroristes. Ces treize héros n’avaient qu’un seul but : nous protéger. Je m’incline devant la douleur de leurs proches et de leurs camarades.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 26, 2019
According to the Guardian, a total of 38 French soldiers have been killed in Mali since France, the former colonial power in the region, began a military intervention back in 2013, when France sent troops to liberate the captured the Mali city of Timbuktu after it was overrun by militants. The campaign is currently France’s largest overseas imbroglio, with 4,500 troops deployed across the region, which is becoming a growing hotbed of militant activity linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS. Thousands of civilians and local soldiers (of their respective government armies) have died in the violence across the region.
The insurgencies in the region, and France’s attempts to suppress them, have termed into a massive game of cat-and-mouse, with the jihadis on the ground able to quickly carry out guerilla attacks before disappearing into the brush and the desert terrain, which is why their campaigns to destabilize local governments have been so effective.
Washington views the Sahel region – a strip of African territory stretching across south-central North Africa – as an emerging hotbed of jihadi activity.
In a message released earlier this year shortly before his death at the hands of an elite American group, the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, congratulated his “brothers” in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso for pledging allegiance.