The French forces that have been fighting in Mali against Islamist militants since intervening Jan. 11 have kept a tight lid on the media. No journalists are embedded with the troops sent to North Africa for Operation Serval, as the expedition is called. But over the weekend, as news transpired of the death of a third French soldier, authorities divulged some details of the operation.
A video has been posted on Saturday on the French armed forces’ YouTube channel, depicting what the text says is an engagement in the Adrar region of northern Mali, on the border with Algeria, on Feb. 26.
According to the captions, the footage shows troops from the GTIA3, or 3rd Joint Tactical Group, fighting with mortars and CAESAR self-propelled howitzers, as well as aviation support. Soldiers are seen firing their assault rifles as well.
A story in Jeune Afrique, a France-based publication covering Africa, quotes Adm. Edouard Guillaud, the chief of staff of the French armed forces, as saying Monday that the soldiers under his command and the Chadian forces fighting alongside the French have uncovered “an industrial organization of terrorism” with about 50 weapon caches and 20 improvised explosive devices. Guillaud would not confirm that Abu Zeid, reputed to be the head of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed in the fighting and simply said it was “likely.”