France Ministry of Defence, November 26, 2019 - On Monday November 25, shortly before 20 hours, Paris time, thirteen French soldiers engaged in the operation Barkhane died in an accident between two helicopters, a Tiger and a Cougar, in the Liptako Malian.
In all likelihood, a collision between these two aircraft operating at very low altitude would be the cause of the accident.
They were involved in an operation to support the commandos of the Barkhane force who were in contact with armed terrorist groups.
Engaged on the ground for a few days, the commandos tracked down a group of terrorists, identified a few hours earlier, who evolved into pickups and motorcycles. Very quickly, they were reinforced by helicopters and a Mirage 2000 patrol.
A Cougar helicopter, with six mountain commandos and a chef de mission on board, was then engaged to coordinate all the assets, while being able to intervene to ensure the "immediate extraction" of the element on the ground.
Around 19:40, during the maneuver to prepare for the engagement of the enemy, the Cougar helicopter and a Tiger collided, crashing both close to each other. None of the embarked soldiers survived.
A rescue and safety operation of the accident zone is underway. Several Barkhane forces are still engaged.
The thirteen soldiers died in combat are the two Tiger crew members of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment (5th RHC), the five crew members of the Cougar (5 th RHC also), four operators of the Group commandos mountain (GCM) of the 4th Fighter Regiment (4th RCH), a GCM operator of the 93rd Mountain Artillery Regiment (93rd RAM) and a GCM operator of the 2nd Foreign Regiment of Engineering (2nd REG).
The army chief of staff, General Francois Lecointre, bows with deep sadness at the memory of these thirteen soldiers, who died for France. All his thoughts are with their families and their brothers in arms.
Led by the French armies, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach based on a logic of partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan strip (BSS): Burkina-Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.
It brings together some 4,500 military personnel whose mission is to fight against armed terrorist groups and to support the armed forces of the partner countries so that they can take this threat into account, in particular within the framework of the joint G5 Sahel force currently under way.