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Mali, The Latest Front On The War Agains Al Qaida


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16 January 2013 Last updated at 14:44 GMT

 

Mali conflict: French 'fighting Islamists in Diabaly'

 

French troops have been fighting Mali's Islamist rebels in street battles in the town of Diabaly, Malian and French sources say.

 

In the first major ground operation in the conflict, French special forces were fighting alongside Malian troops.

Diabaly, 350km (220 miles) north of the capital Bamako, was captured by the rebels on Monday.

 

France intervened in Mali last Friday to try to halt the Islamists' push southwards towards the capital.

 

'Determined adversary'

 

Islamists entered Diabaly on Monday, taking the town from Malian forces. French war planes have since attacked the rebel positions.

 

French army chief Edouard Guillaud said on Wednesday that ground operations had begun.

 

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian added: "Today, the ground forces are being deployed. Until now, we had made sure there were a few ground forces in Bamako to keep our people safe... Now French ground forces are heading up north."

 

A convoy of 50 armoured vehicles left Bamako overnight.

 

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says these are legionnaires from the southern French town of Orange - a special forces unit expert in desert warfare.

 

Residents of Niono, 70km south of Diabaly, say the French arrived overnight.

 

A Malian security source told Agence France-Presse news agency that French special forces were fighting "hand-to-hand" with Islamists alongside Malian forces in Diabaly.

 

The French may face a difficult situation in the town.

 

One eyewitness, Ibrahim Komnotogo, told the Associated Press news agency: "The jihadists have split up. They don't move around in big groups. They are out in the streets, in fours and fives and sixes, and they are living inside the most inhabited neighbourhoods."

 

[...]

 

France has some 800 troops on the ground in Mali and defence sources said their numbers were expected to increase to 2,500.

 

However, France has been pushing hard for the deployment of a West African regional force, and regional military commanders have agreed to send troops under a UN Security Council resolution.

 

A company of 190 Nigerians will be the first to arrive, on Wednesday.

 

Nigeria will lead the force, with 900 troops out of 3,300. Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo have also pledged to take part.

 

The UK has provided transport planes, and on Wednesday Germany gave two Transall transport planes as logistical support.

 

[...]

 

On Wednesday, an official of the separatist Tuareg organisation, the MNLA, in northern Mali, said the group was ready to join the fight against their former allies, the Islamist militants.

 

Speaking to the BBC, Moussa Ag Assarid, did not go as far as saying the MNLA would fight alongside French forces but said his group was against al-Qaeda and terrorism.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk...africa-21038856

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Actually I have not seen much mention of Legion units except in media reports which seem to generalize any French troops in Africa as such. The combined arms battalion deployed from Ivory Coast on the 14th seems to be composed of companies from the 1st Parachute Hussars, 3rd Parachute Marines and 17th Parachute Engineers while the British C-17s flew in elements of 2nd Marines. The special forces mentioned in the BBC report allegedly come from 1st Parachute Marines, the helicopter contingent will be from 5th Attack Helicopter Regiment, about a dozen aircraft including Tigers, Pumas and Gazelles.

Edited by BansheeOne
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The only legionaire unit that seems to be confirmed is an armoured cavalry platoon from the 1er REC (transfered from Chad?), but i`m uncertain if this is a VBL equipped unit or not.

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The only legionaire unit that seems to be confirmed is an armoured cavalry platoon from the 1er REC (transfered from Chad?), but i`m uncertain if this is a VBL equipped unit or not.

 

1er REC has three AMX-10RC sqns, a VBL recce sqn and an anti-tank sqn (with VAB-HOT I think). Most likely VBLs deployed but who knows.

 

http://1rec.legion-etrangere.com/modules/info_liste.php?article_theme=31&idA=111&block=15&idA_SM=0&titre=le-1er-rec-aujourd-hui/

Edited by baboon6
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This is what the French report: Dans la nuit du 15 au 16 janvier, un sous-groupement tactique interarmes (S/GTIA) motorisé (chars Sagaie, VAB, VBL) s’est déployé au nord de Bamako.

 

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Current deployment from what I gather is:

 

In Mali:

- 2 Mirage F1CR at Bamako

- Tactical group of 200 men and 60 vehicles (Sagaies, VAB and VBL) from 1er RHP, 3ème RPIMa & 17ème RGP redeployed from Ivory Coast.

- Company of 2e RIMA deployed from France

- Tactical group of 200 men of 21e RIMa reinforced by a section of 1er REC (AMX-10RC) deployed from Tchad.

- Helicopter task force with Gazelle HOT and Gazelle with 20mm guns of the 4e RHFS plus Pumas and EC725.

- 300 men from the COS

 

800 French soldiers in all in Mali.

 

In Tchad:

 

4 Rafales (3 B, 1C), 6 Mirage 2000D, 5 C135, 1 C130 ,1 Transall C160, 2 Atlantiques.

 

Denmark and Belgium have provided 1 and 2 C-130s respectively, Britain 2 C-17, Canada 1 C-17, Spain has pledged tanker support, and Belgium has also provided 2 medicalised A-109 helicopters.

 

It's not WW3 but it's pretty colorful.

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Related:

 

Algeria Hostages Escape: 15 Flee Captors, Militants Free 40 Others

 

Reuters | Posted: 01/17/2013 7:33 am EST | Updated: 01/17/2013 8:16 am EST

 

By Lamine Chikhi

 

ALGIERS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Some hostages were reported to have escaped from a remote Algerian gas plant on Thursday, where dozens of foreigners and scores of Algerians were seized by Islamist gunmen demanding a halt to a French military campaign in neighbouring Mali.

 

Governments around the world were holding emergency meetings to respond to one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, which sharply raises the stakes over the week-old French campaign against al Qaeda-linked rebels in the Sahara.

 

Algeria's Ennahar television said 15 foreigners, including two French citizens, had escaped the besieged plant deep in the Sahara desert. About 40 Algerians had also been freed, mainly women working as translators, it said.

 

An Algerian security source told Reuters the captors, encircled by Algerian troops, were demanding safe passage out with their prisoners. Algeria has refused to negotiate with what it says is a band of about 20 fighters.

 

The captors, who have been speaking regularly to media in neighbouring Mauritania, told that country's ANI news agency that Algerian helicopters had fired on the compound, wounding two Japanese hostages. This could not be confirmed.

 

A group calling itself the "Battalion of Blood" says it seized 41 foreigners, including Americans, Japanese and Europeans, after storming a natural gas pumping station and employee barracks before dawn on Wednesday.

 

The attackers have demanded an end to the French military campaign in Mali, where hundreds of French paratroopers and marines are launching a ground offensive against rebels a week after Paris began firing on militants from the air.

 

Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said the raid was led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Islamist guerrilla fighter who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and had recently set up his own group in the Sahara after falling out with other local al Qaeda leaders.

 

A holy warrior-cum-smuggler dubbed "The Uncatchable" by French intelligence and "Mister Marlboro" by some locals for his illicit cigarette-running business, Belmokhtar's links to those who seized towns across northern Mali last year are unclear.

 

[...]

 

http://www.huffingto..._n_2494448.html

 

 

Algeria Hostages Killed Along With Militants By Army Air Strikes, Reports Say

 

Posted: 01/17/2013 8:36 am EST | Updated: 01/17/2013 8:49 am EST

 

[...]

 

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Islamist militants have told a Mauritanian news outlet that Algerian military helicopters strafed the gas complex where they are holding hostages, killing 35 of the foreigners and 15 of the kidnappers.

 

The spokesman for the Masked Brigade, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the assault Wednesday on the gas complex deep in the Sahara desert, said Thursday that Abou El Baraa, the leader of the kidnappers, was also killed in the helicopter attack.

 

The information came from the Nouakchott Information Agency, which has often carried reports from al-Qaida-linked extremist groups.

 

The militant spokesman said the kidnappers were attacked by Algerian helicopters when they attempted to leave the complex.

 

The Algerian government would not immediately comment on the standoff and the Associated Press was not able to independently confirm the information.

 

http://www.huffingto..._n_2494565.html

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- Tactical group of 200 men of 21e RIMa reinforced by a section of 1er REC (AMX-10RC) deployed from Tchad.

 

Just saw some photos taken of these 1er REC troopers in Tchad two weeks ago confirming that they have ERC-90s in this detachment, although i`ve read some french saying that AMX-10RCs will propably be sent from France soon.

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Current deployment from what I gather is:

 

In Mali:

- 2 Mirage F1CR at Bamako

- Tactical group of 200 men and 60 vehicles (Sagaies, VAB and VBL) from 1er RHP, 3ème RPIMa & 17ème RGP redeployed from Ivory Coast.

- Company of 2e RIMA deployed from France

- Tactical group of 200 men of 21e RIMa reinforced by a section of 1er REC (AMX-10RC) deployed from Tchad.

- Helicopter task force with Gazelle HOT and Gazelle with 20mm guns of the 4e RHFS plus Pumas and EC725.

- 300 men from the COS

 

800 French soldiers in all in Mali.

 

In Tchad:

 

4 Rafales (3 B, 1C), 6 Mirage 2000D, 5 C135, 1 C130 ,1 Transall C160, 2 Atlantiques.

 

Denmark and Belgium have provided 1 and 2 C-130s respectively, Britain 2 C-17, Canada 1 C-17, Spain has pledged tanker support, and Belgium has also provided 2 medicalised A-109 helicopters.

 

It's not WW3 but it's pretty colorful.

 

Not WW3, but it seems Western Europeans have taken some broad-based interest in the region. That's quite a collection of nations sending assets. They should be enough - for now.

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Popski's Army is alive and well in Mali.

 

 

Biono, le 17 janvier 2013. Des militaires français des Forces spéciales (1er régiment parachutiste d'infanterie de marine de Bayonne) patrouillent dans la ville.

 

 

Les hommes du 1er régiment étranger de cavalerie d'Orange patrouillent sur la route entre Markala et Niono.

 

http://www.leparisie...c=1#infoBulles1

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As an aside, there is a joint session of the French and German parliaments here tomorrow. Mr Hollande will hold a speech, too, and lunch is down in our hall. Security is totally off the rocker, we'll hardly be able to move in our own building.

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I hope not, though almost the entire ground level including the restaurant and tunnel to the Reichstag as well as the Reichstag itself are off limits, and we are supposed to use only the main entrance during the lunch. Which is of course during our own lunch time - I hope they'll at least let us get out via the south exit to get to the main canteen rather than make us run around the building in the snow.

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