Battle of Ifoghas

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Battle of Ifoghas
Part of Operation Panther (2013) and the Northern Mali conflict (2012–present)
Battle of Ifoghas-2013-fr.svg
Date 22 February 2013
Location Adrar des Ifoghas, Kidal Region, Mali
Result Chadian/French military Victory
Belligerents

 Chad

Air Support:

France French Air Force

Islamists groups

Commanders and leaders
Chad Gen. Mahamat Déby Itno
Chad General Omar Bikomb
Chad Captain Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam [1]
France Gen. Bernard Barrera
Abou Zeïd
Mokhtar Belmokhtar
Omar Ould Hamaha
Strength
800 soldiers, 100 vehicles and APC's few hundred
Casualties and losses
26 killed, 51-70 wounded (confirmed by military)[2][3]
46 killed, 84 injured, 34 missing (per Journal of Chad)[4]
117 killed, 67 wounded, 1 captured, 200 deserted (unconfirmed)[5]

93-96 killed, ~20 captured, 6 vehicles destroyed[6]

5 mujahideen killed (per Signatories of Blood)[7]

The Battle of Adrar des Ifoghas or the Battle of Amettetai Valley took place during the French-led Operation Panther in an attempt to oust Islamists militant groups from the Northern Mali Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range. Chadian forces led by Mahamat Déby Itno (Son of current president Idriss Déby) battled Islamists militants around the mountain range that resulted in the Chadian side eliminating key insurgent base.[6]

Overview[edit]


On 22 February, a column of 200 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 ultimately leading onto a main road subsequently leading into an ambush. Allegedly the guide was to blame for possible connections with the MOJWA ahead of time. The Chadian convoy was 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 Islamists militants under cover from terrain on both sides of the road. The hit and run style attack left at least thirteen Chadian soldiers dead on the spot and wounded dozens more.[6] The Chadian column struck back at the attackers receiving needed French surveillance planes and logistical operations able to track the MOJWA insurgents and pursue them to their main base. French airstrikes disabled a number of hostile technicals avoiding further casualties on the Chadian side and raising overall morale. However French airstrikes were limited due to the proximity of fighting between both sides. Chadian soldiers searched a tight network of caves and suffered the heaviest losses in close combat.[8] Surrounded and badly outnumbered MOJWA fighters resorted to hit and run along with suicide attacks. 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 militants detonated hand grenades and explosive IED's killing the Chadian special forces brigade commander in Mali, Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam, and a number of other high-ranked officers.[8] 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.[9]

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 were 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 26 dead.[2][3][10][11]

References[edit]

Coordinates: 19°31′30″N 1°13′12″E / 19.5250°N 1.2200°E / 19.5250; 1.2200