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Thirteen French soldiers killed in Mali in a helicopter crash (v5)

(B2) Thirteen French soldiers died during a military operation in Mali on the evening of Monday, November 25, 2019, the Élysée announced in a communicated released this Tuesday morning, during a combat operation against jihadists » in the Malian Liptako

The 13 soldiers who died (Credit: DICOD / EMA)

The six officers, six non-commissioned officers and a master corporal who died mainly belonged to the 5th regiment of combat helicopters (RHC) in Pau and the 4th regiment of hunters in Gap (part of the 27th mountain infantry brigade BIM (see box) This is one of the most serious losses in simultaneous numbers of France since the ambush of Uzbin in Afghanistan, in 2008, which cost the lives of ten soldiers.

A crash between two helicopters

According to the first elements given by thearmy staff, Tuesday morning, it is a clash between the two devices - a Tiger and a Cougar - "éflying at very low altitude [which] would be the cause of the accident ". Both devices participated in “ a support operation for Barkhane force commandos in contact with armed terrorist groups ».

An operation in Mali's Liptako

Engaged for several days, on the ground, the French military commandos " were tracking a group of terrorists, detected a few hours earlier, who were traveling in pick-ups and motorcycles ". Very quickly, helicopters and a Mirage 2000 patrol were called to the rescue.

air support

The Cougar helicopter, with six mountain commandos and a mission leader on board, was engaged " to coordinate all the means, while being able to intervene to ensure the "immediate extraction" of an element on the ground ».

The collision around 19:40 p.m.

Around 19:40 p.m., during the maneuver intended to prepare the engagement of the enemy ", the Cougar helicopter and a Tiger collided, " crashing a short distance apart ". Without leaving the shadow of a chance to its occupants. No soldier could be saved. " A rescue and securing operation in the accident area is underway. Many means of the Barkhane force are still engaged “ indicates the staff of the armies. The exact circumstances of the collision are not yet known.

Political reactions

The full confidence of President Macron

The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, insisted on “ greet with the greatest respect the memory of these soldiers of the army [...] fallen in operation and died for France in the hard fight against terrorism in the Sahel ».

He also salutes the courage of the French soldiers engaged in the Sahel and their determination to continue their mission " and assures the soldiers engaged in the Barkhane operation of " his full confidence ". As for the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, she " assured [the] bereaved families that the military institution is at their side in this ordeal ».

The whole of Europe is in mourning

Very quickly, the reactions fell in Brussels. The European Union addressed its most sincere condolences to the families of the French soldiers, engaged in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel said the spokesperson for Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU, contacted by B2. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also reacted as the President-elect of the next Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Read separate article


Thirteen fallen soldiers

The thirteen soldiers who died in action are the two crew members of the Tiger of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment of Pau (5th RHC), the five crew members of the Cougar (also 5th RHC), four operators of the Mountain Commandos Group (GCM) from the 4th Chasseurs de Gap Regiment (4e RCH), a GCM operator from the 93rd Mountain Artillery Regiment (93e RAM) and a GCM operator from the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment (2e REG).

The Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly gave, in a communicated, their identities that B2 therefore allows itself to reflect:

  • Captain Nicolas MÉGARD, of the 5th combat helicopter regiment of Pau
  • Captain Benjamin GIREUD of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment of Pau
  • Captain Clément FRISON-ROCHE of the 5th combat helicopter regiment of Pau
  • Lieutenant Alex MORISSE of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment of Pau
  • Lieutenant Pierre BOCKEL of the 5th combat helicopter regiment of Pau
  • Chief Warrant Officer Julien CARETTE of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment of Pau
  • Sergeant Romain SALLES de SAINT PAUL of the 5th combat helicopter regiment of Pau
  • Captain Romain CHOMEL de JARNIEU of the 4th Gap Chasseurs Regiment
  • Chief Marshal Alexandre PROTIN of the 4th Gap Chasseurs Regiment
  • The quartermaster Antoine SERRE of the 4th regiment of hunters of Gap
  • The quartermaster Valentin DUVAL of the 4th regiment of hunters of Gap
  • Chief Marshal Jérémy LEUSIE of the 93rd mountain artillery regiment of Varces
  • Staff Sergeant Andreï JOUK of the 2nd Foreign Engineering Regiment of Saint-Christol

NB: Lieutenant Pierre Bockel, one of the two Cougar pilots involved, is the son of Senator Jean-Marie Bockel, notably a former (socialist) minister under François Mitterrand, in charge of Commerce (1984-1986) and former Secretary of State (UDI) of Veterans (2008-2009) and the Francophonie of Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2008). Very involved in defense issues.

(NGV with RM)

Updated on 26.11, at 11 a.m. with the details of the general staff, the names and origins of the deceased soldiers, at 12 p.m. and 30 p.m. with the first European reactions (F. Mogherini, J.-C. Juncker, U. von der Leyen), and 15 p.m. (son Bockel).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).