PARIS, In a ceremony led by President Emmanuel Macron, France on Monday held a national mourning to honour 13 of its soldiers killed in a collision between two helicopters on an anti-terrorist operation in southern Mali a week ago.
In a televised ceremony in the Invalides Military Complex, Macron praised the bravery of the killed soldiers and said he “bows in front of their sacrifice” in the name of the French nation.
In a moving address Macron, said that the soldiers had given their lives “for France and for the peoples of the Sahel,” where 4,500 French troops are deployed in five countries to combat Al-Qaeda-linked forces and also forces who have pled allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.
Since 2013, France has lost 41 soldiers in the war against terror groups, but hundreds if Malian soldiers have also died. Casualties have also been reported in Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania where France’s ‘Operation Barkhane’ is deployed and on active service.
The so-called Islamic State has claimed it was responsible for the helicopters’ collision – a crash involving a transport and an attack helicopter – but this claim has been rejected here, as officials say an investigation will prove it was a tactical or navigational error, which happened at night in an operational environment.
Speaking to families and comrades of those lost, Macron said the dead soldiers had sacrificed their destinies and their lives and he awarded each deceased soldier “The Legion of Honour” medal; one of the most prestigious in the French Republic.
Source: Kuwait News Agency