Battle of Ifoghas

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Battle of Ifoghas
Part of Northern Mali conflict (2012–present)
Kidal topographic map-fr
Date 22 February 2013
Location Adrar des Ifoghas, Kidal Region, Mali
Result Chadian victory
Belligerents
 Chad
 France
AQIM
MOJWA
Commanders and leaders
Chad Mahamat Déby Itno
Chad Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam [1]
Chad Adam Dih Bidy 
Chad Souleymane Berneo Tebir 
Abou Zeïd
Strength
800 soldiers unknown
Casualties and losses
26 killed, 51 wounded (confirmed)[2][3]
117 killed, 1 captured (unconfirmed)[4]
93 killed, ~20 captured[5]

On 22 February, a column of nearly two-hundred Chadian soldiers departed their army base in the town of Tessalit and were transported towards the Algerian border in order to regroup with a detachment of the French army in a joint military operation targeted at recovering militant arms and possibly securing seven French hostages believed to be held in the area. The Chadian army was responsible for "closing" the narrow neck to the east known as Adrar Tigharghâr, located in the Amettetaï valley, while the French army advanced to the west. According to several sources an MNLA affiliated guide named Sid Ahmed offered to help lead the Chadian army in logistical operations. The column followed the guide instead of taking bypass roads to surprise the enemy he led them through the main road into an ambush. Allegedly he was to blame for possible connections with the MOJWA ahead of time.

They were traveling in the mountains abroad pick-up trucks and light armored vehicles when shortly after 11 o'clock in the morning they came across a tightly noosed attack surrounded by insurgents under cover from terrain on both sides of the road. Taken under fire, they first performed a tactical retreat rather than a counter-attack and resumed their progression on a rough and difficult terrain. The hit and run style attack left at least 13 Chadian soldiers dead on the spot and wounded dozens more.[5] Instead of falling back, the Chadian column struck back at the attackers receiving needed French surveillance planes and logistical operations able to track the MOJWA insurgents to their base. French airstrikes disabled a number of hostile technicals avoiding further casualties on the Chadian side and raising overall morale. Then soldiers searched a tight network of caves and suffered the heaviest losses in close combat.[6] Surrounded and badly outnumbered MOJWA fighters resorted to hit and run attacks along with suicide. Even when they were surrounded many refused to surrender instead resorting to suicide. On one instance three militants, cornered, did not hesitate to blow themselves up with hand grenades killing several soldiers. At one point, when during the search of a poorly lit cave several MOJWA detonated hand grenades and explosive IED's killing Chadian brigade commander in Mali, Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam, and a number of high ranked officers. The brigade commander died of his wounds while being transported to a military hospital in Kidal.[7] By 2 o'clock in the afternoon the situation deteriorated in terms of armed clashes and a Chadian military statement announced over complete control of the valley along with the seizure of weapons caches. Five-hundred more Chadian troops came in support via the base in Kidal during "clean-up operations" in the area but no sign as to the seven French hostages was found, a key objective to the mission likewise.

Throughout the operation Chadian soldiers were supported by French warplanes who brought fire support and aerial coverage. After ten hours of on and off battling jihadists, the Chadian army took control over the 30 km long Amettetaï valley, recapturing all the ground they previously lost. According to a French chief medical officer, who took charge of the wounded, said around twenty soldiers died on the field with most of the shots coming from point blank range. He also indicated that a significant number were wounded in the head or torso, evidence that jihadists fighters are well trained and prepared to battle infantry. The wounded and deceased soldiers were transported by vehicle to Kidal, where by then the casualty toll had risen to 25 dead.[8][9] The wounded were then transported by helicopter to Niamey, Niger. On 28 February, another soldier injured in the fighting succumbed, raising the death toll to 26 dead, with another 51 soldiers being hospitalized.[2][3][10]

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