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Operation Barkhane developments

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  • Operation Barkhane developments

    What is Operation Barkhane?
    • A French-led military operation anti-terrorism operation with the deployment of ~4000 French troops in the Sahel region of West Africa
    • In co-operation with the governments of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger
    • Targeting terrorist/militant organizations including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Nusrat al-Islam, and other organizations

    Operation Barkhane: France's Counterterrorism Forces in Africa

    What began as a French military reaction to an Islamic insurgency in Mali in 2012 has now grown into a more permanent and cross-border counter-terrorism effort by France and five African nations called Operation Barkhane. Currently, about four thousand French soldiers are involved, based in Mali, Chad, Niger, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, and operating across the entire southern Sahara region. France’s military is also coordinating with West African forces, UN peacekeeping forces, and other allied military operations in the area. Reuters photographer Benoit Tessier spent several days in Mali with some of these French soldiers and their Malian partners recently.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 07 Mar 18,, 22:57.
    "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."

  • #2
    Al Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for Burkina Faso attacks

    OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - A Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso that left 16 people dead, including eight gunmen, at the army headquarters and French embassy, Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar reported.

    Eighty others were wounded in the coordinated attacks in the capital Ouagadougou, which follow two other major assaults there in the past two years.

    The group, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), often uses Alakhbar and other Mauritanian news agencies to claim responsibility for strikes against civilian and military targets across West Africa’s Sahel region.

    Alakhbar, citing a message from the group, reported that the attacks were carried out in response to the killing of one of JNIM’s leaders, Mohamed Hacen al-Ancari, in a recent raid by French forces.

    France intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive back Islamist militants who had seized the country’s desert north. It retains about 4,000 troops deployed across its former colonies in the arid Sahel region as part of the anti-terror Operation Barkhane and has aggressively gone after militant group leaders.
    "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."


    • #3
      Donors Pledge $500 Million for Troops in West Africa's Sahel

      BRUSSELS (Reuters) - International donors pledged half a billion dollars for a multinational military operation in West Africa's Sahel region on Friday, as Europe seeks to stop migrants and militants reaching its shores.

      At a conference of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway, countries pledged 414 million euros ($509 million) for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

      "The number of countries who participated today in the conference gives a signal of the importance," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan told reporters.

      The European Union, which believes training local forces will allow it to avoid risking the lives of its own combat troops, doubled its contribution to 116 million euros.

      The pledges should allow the force, which has had difficulty raising funds, to be fully operational this year.

      As violence has spiked, concerns have grown that the region could be a springboard for attacks on the West.

      EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged donors to provide the funds quickly, while African leaders said the money pledged so far would only cover the first year of operations.

      President Emmanuel Macron of France, the region's former colonial power with 4,000 troops in the region, said it would continue its own offensive alongside the G5 Sahel force.
      "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."


      • #4
        Policing the Sahel, the logistics of France's Operation Barkhane:

        "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."


        • #5

          French forces in Mali strike at Gao rebel stronghold

          KONNA, Mali/PARIS (Reuters) - French forces fighting Islamist rebels in Mali seized the airport and a bridge at the rebel bastion of Gao on Saturday, the biggest military success so far for an offensive against al Qaeda-allied insurgents occupying the country's north.

          The United States and Europe back the U.N.-mandated Mali operation as a counterstrike against the threat of radical Islamist jihadists using the West African state's inhospitable Sahara desert as a launching pad for international attacks.

          In their overnight advance on Gao involving special force troops backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, the French killed an estimated dozen Islamist fighters without suffering any losses or injuries, the French army said.

          The speed of the French action in a two-week-old campaign suggested French and Malian government troops intended to drive aggressively into the north of Mali in the next few days against other Islamist rebel strongholds, such as Timbuktu and Kidal.

          There have been 30 French air strikes on militant targets around Gao and Timbuktu in the past 36 hours.

          News that the French were at the gates of Gao, the largest northern town held by the Islamists, came as African states struggled to deploy a planned 6,000-strong intervention force in Mali, known as AFISMA, under a U.N. mandate.

          French army spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said French forces were still coming under fire from rebels inside Gao.

          "At the moment, there are still contacts, some harassment operations by terrorist groups who are firing in the direction of the airport from residences or seeking to blend in with the population," Burkhard told Reuters.

          He said both the bridge and airport runway were undamaged.

          In Paris, the French defence ministry said that Malian and French troop reinforcements were being brought up and that troops from Chad and Niger, who have experience in desert warfare, would also be flown in shortly to Gao.

          To the west, French forces pushed towards Lere, on the road to Timbuktu, without so far encountering resistance.
          "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."


          • #6
            MINUSMA, though Barkhane forces became involved:


            Fighters disguised as peacekeepers attack UN base in Mali

            At least one peacekeeper killed and dozen others wounded in twin suicide attack in Timbuktu, UN mission says.

            At least one UN peacekeeper has been killed and a dozen others wounded in a twin suicide attack on a base in the northern Malian town of Timbuktu, the UN mission said.

            Fighters also fired dozens of rockets at the base and engaged troops in a gun battle on Saturday afternoon, MINUSMA said, adding that the situation is now under control.

            "MINUSMA confirms a significant complex attack on its camp in Timbuktu; mortars, exchange of fire, vehicle suicide bomb attack," the mission tweeted. "One blue helmet was killed in the exchange of fire."

            Malian government spokespersons said the attackers were disguised as UN peacekeepers. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

            In February, four UN peacekeepers were killed and four more were wounded after their vehicle hit an explosive device in the central Mopti region.

            The UN mission in Mali, which has more than 11,000 troops and was established in 2013, is one of the most dangerous peacekeeping operations in the world, with troops and convoys regularly coming under attack from armed groups.

            According to UN figures, more than 162 members of the mission have been killed since 2013.

            A 2015 peace deal signed by the government and armed groups has failed to end violence in northern Mali by rebel groups, who have also staged assaults on high-profile targets in the capital, Bamako, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

            In 2013, French forces intervened to drive back armed fighters who had hijacked a Tuareg uprising a year earlier, and some 4,000 French troops remain.

            The UN Security Council then deployed peacekeepers to the country, but they have been targets of a concerted guerrilla campaign.

            The attack and defense were a bit more complex than described and on the militant side apparently involved a combined mortar and artillery rocket barrage on the camp - with 12 hits within the compound - followed by diversive small arms fire covering while three SVBIED with UN and Malian markings attempted to pretend being a convoy of friendly forces fleeing from attack into the camp while also carrying additional armed suicide bombers disguised as blue helmets. The defense concentrated on defeating these within the compound while other militants were engaged by four Mirage 2000 and a pair of Tiger attack helicopters. Paratroopers onboard three NH-90 and a C-160 were deployed to the nearby airport to secure it for MEDEVAC for the wounded, which for security reasons could not be conducted until the next morning.

            The Timbuktu camp regularly sees attack of this scale. The last major attack was in January and resulted in 32 dead on both sides. The last similarly-styled attack - using UN-marked SVBIED - was at Gao Airport in 2016.

            Deployed forces in the Timbouctou camp, MINUSMA only, current as of February:
            Click image for larger version

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            France itself as part of Barkhane only seems to maintain around one or two companies there.

            Full deployment map for MINUSMA:
            Last edited by kato; 16 Apr 18,, 18:13.


            • #7
              P.S. Similar attacks on MINUSMA bases occured mostly during 2016. This included SVBIEDs with UN markings e.g. in an attack at Gao Airport and combination attacks with indirect fire supporting ground attack with gunfire and suicide bombers e.g. in Gao and Kidal. During 2017 the use of suicide bombers seemed to shift a bit towards attacks against the Malian Army, with attacks against MINUSMA and Barkhane being more conventional mortar/rocket fire plus ground attack, often against troops in the open first e.g. stopped with IEDs.


              • #8
                Full article:

                First UK troops arrive in Africa to support France’s Barkhane mission in the Sahel

                The first troops from a 100-member U.K. contingent to be deployed alongside French counter-terrorism forces in west Africa have arrived in the region, the French military said Thursday.

                “The first troops from the British Chinook deployment, which will comprise three heavy transport helicopters and will be deployed in Gao [northern Mali] have arrived,” armed forces spokesman Colonel Patrik Steiger said.

                The advance party from a contingent that will be in place by the end of the summer arrived in Niamey, the capital of Niger, Mali’s neighbour to the east, Steiger added.

                The U.K. is to send three CH-47 Chinook helicopters, but British military personnel will not be involved in combat operations, the government said.

                Steiger said the U.S.-made helicopters, which can carry about 40 troops, will be “very useful” for the mobility of the Barkhane force.

                In January, Prime Minister Theresa May promised French President Emmanuel Macron that Britain would step up its support for France’s Operation Barkhane, which has been battling jihadist groups across the arid Sahel region since 2014.

                May said that although Britain was preparing to leave the EU, “this does not mean that the UK is leaving Europe,” stressing Britain’s commitment to its cooperation with France in the area of defence.

                The U.K. has provided regular use of a C-17 transport plane for France’s operations in the Sahel region since 2016.
                "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."