December was one of the most violent months in the region in recent years

Joint Malian-French operation kills 100 jihadists in January

photo_camera REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER - French soldiers patrol in a BvS10 all-terrain armoured vehicle in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali

A hundred suspected jihadists have been killed in the course of three weeks (2 to 20 January) during a joint operation between the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) and French soldiers of the Barkhane force, deployed in several Sahel countries on anti-terrorist missions.

The FAMA published a communiqu茅 explaining that the joint operation, called "Eclipse", was aimed at "driving the enemy out of their hideouts", specifically those located in the area between the towns of Serma, Boulkessi, Foulssaret and Doni, near the Malian border with Burkina Faso.

The soldiers also captured twenty jihadists alive and seized "war material" and a large number of motorbikes, the jihadists' preferred means of transport for launching surprise attacks and fleeing with relative ease.

The operation required two months of preparation to allow for greater rapport between the Malian and French military before they moved together into the area of operations, located in the Gourma region, where attacks have been concentrated in recent months.

Atalayar_Barkhane 2

The death toll of around 100 does not include those killed last Sunday in a double jihadist attack on two barracks, one belonging to the FAMA and the other to the G5-Sahel force, the group of five Sahel countries allied against jihadist terrorism, which left six soldiers dead, as well as 30 jihadists.

That double attack was aborted precisely thanks to the intervention of Barkhane, who used Tiger attack helicopters against the attackers until they fled.

FAMA's latest communiqu茅 thus highlights the decisive French cooperation over the past month and seems to respond to the increasingly open criticism, in Mali and in France, of French involvement in a foreign war, widely perceived as a colonialist project that is doing little to reduce the levels of violence.

Several jihadist groups, loyal to Al Qaeda or the self-styled Islamic State, but also independent, are relentlessly fighting the states of Mali, Niger, Burkina and Nigeria, having made the Sahel their main area of activity in the last two years. 

More in Politics
Yahya Sinwar, jefe de Hamas en la Franja de Gaza- MAJDI FATHI / NurPhoto / NurPhoto vía AFP
Israel denies that the Hamas leader in Gaza has escaped to Egypt via a tunnel, as claimed by Arab media. A picture of an arrested man who looks very similar to Sinwar has also been circulating in recent hours

Where is Yahya Sinwar?

Tinduf - PHOTO/FILE
Algiers never expected such a blow from US Ambassador Elizabeth Moore Aubin. Just as she was posing for a souvenir photo with Supreme Court justices at the end of a visit she had just made to their institution, the US embassy issued a communiqu茅 dissuading Westerners from travelling to Tindouf because of terrorism

US, Spain and UK warn their nationals wishing to visit Tindouf

Las princesas Lalla Meryem, Lalla Asmae y Lalla Hasnaa fueron recibidas por Brigitte Macron en Francia
Princesses Lalla Meryem, Lalla Asmae and Lalla Hasnaa were received by the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron and the French ambassador urged to clarify the issue of Western Sahara, which still separates the two nations

France and its closer ties with Morocco