What happened Monday night in Mali in the zone of the three borders?
According to the French army, two army helicopters collided and 13 French soldiers perished in the crash. General François Lecointre, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces is the guest of RFI this morning. He returns to this accident, denies that jihadist fire caused the accident, and the engagement of French troops on African soil.
The Chief of Staff of the armed forces, François Lecointre, strongly denies the assertions of the Islamic State group in the Great Sahara: the collision between the two helicopters is not due to shooting or action of the jihadists that they fought.
« It’s absolutely wrong. What is true – as we have said – and in the current state of knowledge that we have, I will certainly not venture beyond: there is collision between two helicopters, in a combat operation very complex that requires in an operation and in a tough atmosphere of concentration of combat, risk measurement, a very fine coordination. And this coordination that is made complex by the combat, which is part of the fight, led to this accident. But for all that, the jihadists, who were pursued and who were marked in a certain way on the ground, did not take any part in it. And so there was no withdrawal of a device against a shot of the jihadists. «
« We owe the truth to our soldiers »
And to give more weight to his words, General Francois Lecointre insisted strongly that the French army says the truth: « The French army speaks the truth. I think it’s important to measure it well. In any case, what I can absolutely testify today, and I will never venture to say something that is not strictly true, is that there was no shooting of jihadists on our helicopters. « We owe it, » he added, « to our soldiers and the families of our fallen companions. « Also ensuring that the investigations are not completed, the black boxes will be exploited to have precise details of how our soldiers died.
General Lecointre also said that France did not intend to withdraw from Mali. The French presence remains indisputable, but France needs more support from its partners, a strong call especially to European partners, insists General Lecointre stating that the options may relate to an effort in an area, but also on diplomacy . « Barkhane is constantly adapting and the victories are there, » added the army chief of staff, recalling that Bamako, Gao, Timbuktu are free cities.
François Lecointre also reacted to the anti-French feeling that is developing in the Sahel. « I can not stand these rumors any more, » he said, « the French armies are in Mali to restore stability, and François Lecointre to push the point: to imagine that we are there for wealth is insulting. «