A French Special Operations soldier was seriously injured during an anti-ISIS operation in Mali in which the French stated that they “put five terrorists out of action.”

The French Armed Forces Ministry released a statement saying that during a November 16 operation into the Menaka region of Mali, where the Islamic State is growing in support and strength, a “reconnaissance action conducted in the heart of the Malian Liptako the Barkhane force put five terrorists out of action in the Indelimane area.”

French commandos accompanying local forces located a suspicious camp about 20 km south of Indelimane. After scouting the movements of armed terrorist groups, they launched an operation against it. 

“After being dropped off by helicopter, Barkhane force commandos infiltrated through difficult terrain at night,” the statement said. “In the early morning, an assault was conducted with the support of Tigre helicopters from the Desert Aerocombat Battle Group, leading to the terrorists being put out of action.”

During the operation, one French Commando was seriously wounded and airlifted to France where he’s being treated at the Percy Military Hospital. Also during the operation, the Joint SOF force seized or destroyed four motorcycles, AK-47 assault weapons, as well as explosives, magazines, and body armor. 

Two weeks ago a terrorist attack on a Malian base in the Indelimane area killed 49 soldiers and civilians. The French have been seeking European Special Operations troops to help battle the insurgents in the Sahel. They want to increase the training and equipping of local troops and are trying to create a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force under French command.

The SOF unit, Task Force TAKUBA (Saber) will be made up of Special Operations units from several European countries. According to a recent SOFREP article, the Joint Special Operations Task Force will be comprised of troops from Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

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The G5 Sahel, consisting of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are rife with instability and terrorism. It was in Niger in 2017 where a group from the U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group was ambushed and four soldiers were killed. 

This month saw the commencement and conclusion of Operation Bourgou IV. The operation lasted 17 days and was unprecedented in its duration. It was conducted by the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Armed Forces of Burkina Faso (FABF) and the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa). It took place in the Déou area of Burkina Faso and Boulikessi area of Mali. It included about 1400 troops, more than half of which were local troops advised by the French. It resulted in “24 individuals, being put out of action,” and the seizure of 64 vehicles, around 100 phones, as well as weapons and ammunition.

With large areas of the G5 Sahel not controlled by any government forces, violence against civilians has largely gone unchecked. Since January, the U.N. says that over 1500 people in Mali and Burkina Faso have been killed with over a million being displaced within the G5 states. 

In early November, AFRICOM stated that drone operations, consisting of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights in support of the G5 Sahel, had begun from Nigerien Air Base 201 in the northern city of Agadez.

Currently, the French have about 4500 troops in the region with 2700 of those in their former colony of Mali.