France lost a 50th soldier in Mali (58th in the Sahel). This Friday, Master Corporal Maxime Blasco died in a clash with a terrorist group. “It is with particularly strong emotion that the President of the Republic learned of the death in operation of Master Corporal Maxime Blasco of the 7th Battalion of Alpine Chasseurs de Varces,” the Elysee said in a press release. On June 18, the soldier was decorated for the exceptional value of his services by Emmanuel Macron.
The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly sent “her condolences to the family, relatives and brothers in arms of Master Corporal Maxime Blasco”.
Maxime Blasco died during a reconnaissance operation led by the Barkhane Force in the Malian Gourma, south-east of N’Daki, in the Gossi region, near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso. Elements of an armed terrorist group were detected by a Reaper drone early in the morning, in the N’Daki forest. Two attack helicopters were quickly deployed to neutralize them and a group of commandos engaged on the ground.
The soldiers of this group were taken at close range by other members of the terrorist group in ambush. Hit in the head by a gunman who was neutralized by the commandos, Maxime Blasco, “very seriously injured, quickly succumbed to his wounds”, indicates the General Staff of the armies.
This death also occurs in a tense context between Paris and the junta in power in Bamako, which plans to conclude a contract with the sulphurous Russian paramilitary company Wagner, described as close to Russian power. A deployment of these mercenaries would be “incompatible” with the maintenance in Mali of French troops, who have been fighting the jihadists in the Sahel for eight years, warned the head of French diplomacy, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The President of the Republic for his part reaffirmed this Friday “the determination of France in its fight against terrorism”, even if he announced last June a future reduction of the French military presence in the Sahel, with the closure of bases and a re-articulation of the anti-jihadist fight around an international alliance bringing together Europeans.