Operation Barkhane

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Operation Barkhane
Part of the 2012 Northern Mali conflict, Insurgency in the Maghreb and the War on Terror
Af Ner 125 - Fort de Madama.jpg
French soldiers of the 3rd RPIMa with a Nigerien soldier at Fort Madama in Niger, 12 November 2014.
Date1 August 2014 – present
LocationSahel: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad
Status Ongoing

G5 Sahel

Supported by:

Nusrat al-Islam (2017–present)
AQIM (2014–present)
Al-Mourabitoun (2014–17)
Ansar Dine (2014–17)
Commanders and leaders

François Hollande (2014–17)
Emmanuel Macron (2017–present)
Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta
Mahamadou Issoufou
Michel Kafando
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

Idriss Déby

Djamel Okacha
Iyad Ag Ghaly

Mokhtar Belmokhtar
3,500 French troops[5] 3,000 fighters (all groups)[6]
Casualties and losses
10 killed[7][8][9] 65 killed, 60 captured[10]
The Sahel region.

Operation Barkhane is an ongoing anti-insurgent operation in Africa's Sahel region, which commenced 1 August 2014.[11] It consists of a 3,000-strong French force, which will be permanent and headquartered in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.[5] The operation has been designed with five countries, and former French colonies, that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.[5] These countries are collectively referred to as the "G5 Sahel".[12] The operation is named after a crescent-shaped dune in the Sahara desert.[13]


The operation is the successor of Operation Serval, the French military mission in Mali,[13] and Operation Epervier, the mission in Chad.[14]


The operation is "to become the French pillar of counterterrorism in the Sahel region."[12] According to French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the main objective of Operation Barkhane is counter-terrorism:[11] "The aim is to prevent what I call the highway of all forms of traffics to become a place of permanent passage, where jihadist groups between Libya and the Atlantic Ocean can rebuild themselves, which would lead to serious consequences for our security."[15] French President, François Hollande, has said the Barkhane force will allow for a "rapid and efficient intervention in the event of a crisis" in the region.[13] The operation will target Islamist extremists in Mali, Chad and Niger,[11] and will have a mandate to operate across borders.[11]

Forces committed[edit]

French Forces[edit]

The French force is a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism force,[5] with 1,000 soldiers to be deployed indefinitely in Mali. These soldiers will be focused on counter-terrorism operations in northern Mali, with another 1,200 soldiers stationed in Chad, and the remaining soldiers split between a surveillance base in Niger, a bigger permanent base in Ivory Coast, and some special forces in Burkina Faso.[5] According to original plans, the French forces will be supplied with 20 helicopters, 200 armored vehicles, 10 transport aircraft, 6 fighter planes, and 3 drones.[5] French Army Aviation currently have two Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma's in Chad.[16] The division of labor between France and the G5 Sahel has been established by four permanent military bases:[12] (1) headquarters and an air force base in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena (under the leadership of French Général Palasset); (2) a regional base in Gao, north Mali, with at least 1,000 men; (3) a special-forces base in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou; (4) an intelligence base in Niger’s capital, Niamey, with over 300 men. The Niamey air base is strategically important because it hosts drones in charge of gathering intelligence across the entire Sahel-Saharan region.[12] From Niamey, France's troops are supported by two German Transall C-160.[17]

British support[edit]

In March 2016, during the UK-France Summit in Paris, the British government announced that it would consider providing support to Operation Barkhane.[1] British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon then announced that the UK would provide monthly strategic airlift support to French forces in Africa.[2]


On March 22, 2018, the Ministry of Defence of Estonia announced its intention to commit up to 50 troops to Mali as part of Operation Barkhane, to be based in Gao, pending approval by the Riigikogu.[18]



Operations commenced 1 August 2014. French Forces sustained their first casualty during a battle in early November 2014, which also resulted in 24 jihadists dead.[10]



On 12 April 2016, three French soldiers were killed when their armored personnel carrier struck a land mine. The convoy of about 60 vehicles was travelling to the northern desert town of Tessalit when it hit the mine.[19]


On 15 March 2017, French forces arrested eight jihadists in desert north of Timbuktu.[20] On 5 April 2017, master corporal Julien Barbé,[21] was killed in action near Hombori after an explosive device blew up an armoured vehicle.[22] He was posthumously made a knight of the Legion of Honour.[21] On 14 October 2017, an Antonov An-26 aircraft operating in support of Operation Barkhane crashed shortly before landing at Félix Houphouët Boigny International Airport, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.[23] Four Moldovan flight crew were killed. Two Moldovan flight crew and four French Army soldiers were injured.[24]


On 14 February 2018, a French airstrike killed at least 10 Jihadists at the border between Algeria and Mali.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "UK-France Summit 3 rd March 2016 - Annex on security and defence" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Defence Secretary secures progress on Brimstone sales as unmanned aircraft project moves forward". Ministry of Defence. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016. And he committed the UK to providing one strategic airlift flight a month to support French forces in their operations against terrorists in Africa. 
  3. ^ "Operation FREQUENCE". Forces.gc.ca. National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "The CAF conduct airlift operations in support of French operations in West Africa and the Sahel region". Government of Canada. National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "François Hollande's African adventures: The French are reorganising security in an increasingly troubled region". Economist. 
  6. ^ "Jihadist threat not as big as you think". CNN. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "One more French soldier killed in Mali". Xinhua News Agency. 15 July 2014. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "French soldier killed in Mali blast claimed by Islamists". 5 November 2016. Archived from the original on 6 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "Two French soldiers killed by explosive device in Mali = France 24". 21 February 2018. 
  10. ^ a b "French Military Says 24 Jihadists Killed in Mali". ABC News. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d France sets up anti-Islamist force in Africa's Sahel, bbc.co.uk.
  12. ^ a b c d Larivé, Maxime H.A. "Welcome to France's New War on Terror in Africa: Operation Barkhane". nationalinterest.org. 
  13. ^ a b c Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa, france24.com.
  14. ^ Opération Barkhane, French Ministry of Defense.
  15. ^ France Launches New Sahel Counter-Terrorism Operation Barkhane, ibtimes.co.uk.
  16. ^ AirForces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. November 2015. p. 23. 
  17. ^ "Aktuelle Einsätze der Bundeswehr" (in (in German)). Einsatz.bundeswehr.de. 2018-02-17. Retrieved 2018-02-21. 
  18. ^ de Cherisey, Erwan (March 28, 2018). "Estonia pledges troops for France's Sahel mission". Jane's Information Group. 
  19. ^ France-Presse, Agence (2016-04-13). "Three French soldiers killed in Mali mine blast". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  20. ^ Baba Ahmed. "French forces arrest 8 jihadists in northern Mali: Official". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 2017-03-17. 
  21. ^ a b "Angers Un hommage émouvant au soldat Julien Barbé tué au Mali". Le Courrier de l'ouest. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  22. ^ "French soldier killed in 'clash with terrorists' in Mali". France 24. 6 April 2017. 
  23. ^ "ER-APV Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 14 October 2017. 
  24. ^ Allen, Ian (October 16, 2017). "French Special Forces were on plane that crashed in Ivory Coast, killing 4". intelNews. Retrieved October 17, 2017. Of the ten people that were on board, four are reportedly dead; six others are seriously hurt. Reports said that the four dead passengers were all Moldovan nationals. Two other Moldovans and four French nationals were injured. 
  25. ^ "French forces kill at least 10 jihadists in Mali: military sources". Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  26. ^ "French forces kill at least 10 jihadists in Mali: military sources". Retrieved 21 February 2018.