Moscow [Russia], September 25 (ANI/Sputnik): French Chief of Defense Staff Thierry Burkhard has confirmed media reports that one French soldier was killed in clashes with terrorists in Mali, West Africa.
"It is with deep emotion that I announce the death in combat, today, in Mali, of Master Corporal Maxime BLASCO, a hero who had already brilliantly distinguished himself during his previous engagements in the BSS [Sahel/Sahara area], especially during the Operation Aconit ['Aconite'] in June 2019," Burkhard tweeted on Friday.
A press release attached to the tweet says that members of an armed terrorist group were detected by a drone in the early hours of Friday morning near the N'Daki forest, and a patrol of two helicopters was quickly sent to neutralize them. A group of fighters backed by the helicopters was deployed for reconnaissance. During that operation, the group was attacked by other members of the armed group, and Blasco was shot. He later succumbed to his wounds.
Burkhard sent his condolences to the family and friends of Blasco, who has participated in the Operation Barkhane since 2014. The fallen soldier was 34 years old.
France has been conducting Operation Barkhane against terrorist groups in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, since August 1, 2014. Mali has been particularly destabilized since a 2012 military coup, which prompted a Tuareg uprising in the north of the country. The conflict is further complicated by the presence of various Islamic groups that also control areas in the north. (ANI/Sputnik)