In the span of a few weeks, a French Special Operations task force has assaulted three terrorist camps deep in Mali, resulting in the death of scores of Jihadists.

The French Ministry of Defence announced that the first operation took place on December 21. A French Special Operations ground element, supported by Mirage 2000D fighter jets and Tigre attack helicopters, conducted an air assault deep in the Ouagadou forest in a direct action mission. The French located a terrorist camp and killed 33 terrorists, according to the French military.

As the French operators were scouring the camp after the fight and conducting Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE), they were attacked by terrorist reinforcements who had come in technicals and motorcycles. An orbiting MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) took out the terrorist reinforcements though.

Also, during the operation, the French operators rescued two Malian hostages.

The second operation took place on December 30. Again, a heliborne Special Operations assault force conducted an air assault on a terrorist camp, taking out about 10 terrorists and destroying a significant amount of enemy materiel.

Finally, the third operation took place on January 5. Once more, a heliborne Special Operations element raided a terrorist training camp after a pair of Mirage 2000Ds had bombed it. The French operators neutralized about a dozen enemy fighters.

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The French have taken a lead on combatting extremism in the Sahel region. The G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) are festered by terrorists, who aim to export their violent extremism throughout West Africa.

France’s military commitment in the Sahel (Infographic courtesy of SouthFront.org).

European nations are currently debating a French proposal for a multinational joint Special Operations task force that would deploy and operate in the Sahel. The initiative, named Task Force TAKUBA, which in the Tuareg language means “sabre,” envisions a French-led unit that will be comprised of Special Operations elements from numerous European nations. Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Spain Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, have all been considered for the initiative; Germany and the United Kingdom have opted to stay out. Most of those nations have already SOF units deployed in the region conducting Special Reconnaissance (SR), Direct Action (DA), and Foreign Internal Defence (FID) missions.

Despite the substantial French and Western commitment in the Sahel, Jihadists continue to deliver devastating blows to the local militaries and economies. SOFREP spoke with a number of Legionnaires from the French Foreign Legion’s famous 2REP about the situation in the Sahel. With over 10 combat deployments in the region combined, the paratroopers questioned the Western resolution to permanently deal with extremism in the Sahel. They see their deployments as a bandaid, meant to stem the flow of terrorism but not eradicate it.