Minister of Armed Forces defends French military “results” in the Sahel

French Armed Minister Florence Parly defended Sunday the results achieved by the French anti-jihadist military operation in the Sahel.

French Armed Minister Florence Parly defended Sunday the results achieved by the French anti-jihadist military operation in the Sahel, which is entering its ninth year and attracts growing criticism of bogging.

Ms. Parly took the opportunity to forcefully reject suspicions of burr surrounding a recent Air Strike by Force Barkhane, local testimonies evoking a strike on a marriage in central Mali, while Paris says she had killed only jihadists.

The French military in Mali, five of whom were recently killed and six wounded in two weeks, are engaged because we are in a fight against terrorism, she said in the program Questions politiques on France Inter and FranceInfoTV, in partnership with Le Monde.

600 people in 2020 in Burkina Faso lost their lives in these attacks and in Mali, the UN says that half of the victims of improvised explosive devices (…) are civilian casualties, she said.

We aim to ensure that, gradually, the Sahel armed forces, that the joint force (G5 Sahel, ndr) have the capacity to ensure security in the Sahel. This sahelization requires that we accompany it. France, but also Europeans and other countries are accompanying her, she said.

It is a strategy that requires long-term efforts, she continued, but the upcoming likely withdrawal of 600 French soldiers sent as reinforcements last year to the Sahel does not call into question the French presence.

What we want are results. And this is happening, she stressed, assuring that progress has been made and recalling that the French army had killed several senior leaders of the Sahelian jihadist groups in recent months.

On the other hand, the question I ask is how this system should adapt, because we do not have a vocation to be eternal in Mali, she repeated. A summit is planned in February between Paris and its Sahelian partners to assess the situation, one year after the summit in Pau (south of France).

Asked about the controversy surrounding last Sundays strikes in central Mali, Ms Parly reiterated the denials expressed by the French staff, believing that many people say a lot of things, and many things totally inaccurate.

Villagers and a Peule ethnic association claim that an airstrike, some of whom claim was conducted by helicopter, killed about 20 people during a marriage in the village of Bounti (centre).

On January 3, after a reconnaissance and intelligence action, we identified a terrorist group near the locality of Bounti. We hired two French fighter planes that eliminated dozens of jihadists, said the minister.

We did not hire any helicopters on the area and there was no marriage, no women or children, and that they were exclusively men, she hammered. This is not the first time we have been told about helicopters that ultimately did not fly.