(B2) Thirteen french soldiers have died during a military operation in Mali on Monday night, 25th November 2019, announced the Élysée in a press statement published this Tuesday morning. Six officers, six noncommissioned officers, et one master corporal have died in the crash of their two helicopters « during a combat operation against jihadists » in the malian Liptako
They belonged primarily to the 5e régiment d’hélicoptères de combat (RHC) of Pau and the 4e régiment de chasseurs of Gap (part of the 27e BIM brigade d’infanterie de montage (see frame)). It is one of the most serious losses in simultaneous number for France since the ambush of Uzbin in Afghanistan, in 2008, which took the lives of ten soldiers.
A crash between two helicopters
Based on the first elements given by the defence staff, it was a collision between the two engines – a Tigre and a Cougar – « which where at very low altitude that would the origin of the accident ». The two engines participated in « a support operation for the commandos of the Barkhane force in contact with terrorist armed groups ».
An operation in the malian Liptako
Engaged on the ground for a few days already, the french military commandos were « tracking a group of terrorists, identified a few hours prior, which were moving with pick-ups and motocycles ». Very rapidly, the helicopters as well as a Mirage 2000 patrol were called to the rescue.
An aerial support
The Cougar helicopter, with six commandos de montagne and one chief of mission on board, was engaged « to coordinate the entire ressources, while also being in mesure to intervene to ensure “the immediate extraction” of an element on the ground ».
The collision around 19h40
Around 19h40, « during a manoeuvre in order to prepare the engagement with the enemy », the Cougar helicopter and the Tigre collided, « crashing a short distance from each other ». Without letting any chance to its occupants. No soldier could be saved. « A rescue and security operation in the accident zone is ongoing. A wide number of ressources of the Barkhane force are still engaged » has indicated the Defence staff. The exact circumstances of the collision are not yet known.
The complete confidence of President Macron
The president of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, wanted to « commend with the utmost respect the memory of these soldiers of the Ground Army […] who have fallen during an operation and died for France in the hardest combat against terrorism in the Sahel ». He also commends « the bravery of the french soldiers engaged in the Sahel and their determination to continue their mission » and assured the soldiers deployed in the Barkhane operation of « his complete confidence ». When it comes to the minister of the Army, Florence Parly, she « assured the military families that the military institution is by their side in this hardship ».
The entire Europe is in mourning
The European Union gave its « most sincere condolences to the families of the french soldiers, engaged in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel » according to the spokesperson of Federica Mogherini, the High representative of the EU. The president of the European commission Jean-Claude Juncker also « paid tribute » to the thirteen soldiers, stating that « it is the entire Europe who is in mourning because […] in Mali as is the case elsewhere, it is the French army who defends the honour and the security of Europe », announced his spokesperson on Tuesday at noon. « We share the pain of all French people » declared the president elect of the next Commission and also former German minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, in the afternoon. « I know the true value and importance of the work French troops are doing to fight terrorism, for the people of Mali as much as for the people of Europe ».
Updated during the afternoon with the European Union reactions
Thirteen soldiers fallen on the battlefield
The thirteen soldiers who died during combat are the two crew members of the Tigre du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau (5e RHC), the five crew members of the Cougar (5e RHC also), the four operators of the Groupement commandos montagne (GCM) du 4e Régiment de chasseurs de Gap (4e RCH), an operator GCM du 93e Régiment d’artillerie de montagne (93e RAM) and an operator GCM du 2e Régiment étranger du génie (2e REG).
The minister of the Army Florence Parly gave, in the press statement, their identities that B2 therefore allows itself to give you :
- Le capitaine Nicolas MÉGARD, du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- Le capitaine Benjamin GIREUD du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- Le capitaine Clément FRISONROCHE du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- Le lieutenant Alex MORISSE du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- Le lieutenant Pierre BOCKEL du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- L’adjudant-chef Julien CARETTE du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- Le brigadier-chef Romain SALLES DE SAINT PAUL du 5e Régiment d’hélicoptères de combat de Pau
- Le capitaine Romain CHOMEL DE JARNIEU du 4e Régiment de chasseurs de Gap
- Le maréchal des logis-chef Alexandre PROTIN du 4e Régiment de chasseurs de Gap
- Le maréchal des logis Antoine SERRE du 4e Régiment de chasseurs de Gap
- Le maréchal des logis Valentin DUVAL du 4e Régiment de chasseurs de Gap
- Le maréchal des logis-chef Jérémy LEUSIE du 93e Régiment d’artillerie de montagne de Varces
- Le sergent-chef Andreï JOUK du 2e Régiment étranger de génie de Saint-Christol