French soldier killed in Mali gunfight

International— Link

Lance corporal Maxime Blasco, 34, was fatally wounded on Friday by a hidden sniper during clashes between French troops and 'around ten' jihadists in Mali, close to the Burkina Faso border, a French armed forces ministry spokesman said, which brings to 52 the number of French military personnel who have died in the region since France launched its anti-jihadist operations in 2013.

The mothers and children sent back to France from jihad


At the end of July, two French women and their children were returned to France by Turkey after spending years in Syria among the ranks of the so-called Islamic State group. After their arrival, they were placed under investigation and put into preventive detention. Under a cooperation agreement between Paris and Ankara, more are due to arrive this month and will face the same procedure. Céline Martelet reports on the path of the women former jihadists, and the fate of their children.

France to scale down military operations in Sahel region

International— Link

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will reduce the size of its military mission in the West Africa region of the Sahel where it has been engaged since 2013 in operations against jihadist groups.

France's Total suspends Mozambique gas project over jihadist attacks

International— Link

A March 24 jihadist raid on Palma in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado province prompted Total to remove remaining staff from the natural gas site.

How French soldiers risk compromising their security on social networks

France— Investigation

The French military has banned soldiers from posting sensitive information online. However, via a number of different apps Mediapart has managed to discover the profiles of more than 800 French troops deployed abroad and the profiles of more than 200 special forces soldiers. The military's general staff meanwhile is reluctant to discuss the precise measures that have been taken to contain a problem that could put the security of military personnel and their operations at risk, especially from terrorists who target French troops abroad. Justine Brabant and Sébastien Bourdon report.

How French drone strikes in the Sahel risk losing 'hearts and minds'


Two French soldiers were killed this weekend in Mali when their vehicle was targeted by an improvised explosive device, in what was a grim reminder of the difficulties the French military face in their campaign to defeat jihadist groups in the Sahel region. To strengthen its operations, France has begun deploying, for the first time anywhere, armed drones. But, as Rémi Carayol reports, while these have apparently reduced the capacity of the jihadists to launch mass attacks, the drone strikes have also made civilians fearful for their own safety, with the potential effect of losing support for the military campaign.

Macron announces 33 jihadists killed in Mali by French army

International— Link

French President Emmanuel Macron, visiting Ivory Coast, said French troops killed 33 jihadists early Saturday in an operation in Mali's Mopti region, when one person was taken prisoner and two Malian gendarmes held hostage were freed.

French FM heads to Iraq to seek trials there of jihadists from Syria

International— Link

French foreign minister Jean-Ives Le Drian on Wednesday travelled for talks with the Iraqi authorities on setting up a judicial framework to allow for the trials of jihadists detained in Syria, where Kurdish captors said they can longer ensure guarding them in face of the Turkish offensive in the north of the country.

Iraq offers to commute death sentences of French jihadists 'for money'

France— Link

Reports say Iraqi government wants $1m for each jihadist transferred from Syria and $2m each for those whose sentences are commuted.

French jihadists face Iraqi justice under the discreet orders of Paris

International— Investigation

Twelve former residents in France – eleven of them French citizens, one a Tunisian – have now been sentenced to death in Iraq for having been a member of Islamic State. But whatever charges they face, the way in which Iraqi justice is being carried out in relation to the jihadists has raised major concerns, including among many French lawyers. As Mediapart has revealed, the ides of trying these French citizens and residents in Iraq was conceived in Paris where officials want the process to be carried out “without visible involvement by France”. Matthieu Suc reports.

French hostages drama highlights jihadist expansion into Burkina Faso


Two French tourists who were taken hostage earlier this month while exploring the Pendjari national park in Benin, when their guide was murdered, arrived back in France on Saturday. They were freed from a location in nearby Burkina Faso by a special forces operation on Friday, during which two French marines lost their lives. The dramatic events have highlighted how jihadist groups have recently begun seizing control of swathes of this region of West Africa, taking advantage of a growing resentment among sections of the population against state authorities. Rémi Carayol reports.

How Mali's wanted jihadists are escaping justice


Since France’s military intervention in Mali in 2013 put an end to an offensive by Islamic extremists occupying the north of the country, and despite the subsequent UN peacekeeping mission to help stabilize the former French colony, it remains blighted by insecurity. Amid the continuing tensions, the government stands accused of a strategy of clemency towards senior jihadists who led a reign of terror during their occupation of the north. The vast majority of them have been allowed to escape justice, while the few who were placed in jail have been discretely freed, apparently in prisoner exchange deals. Rémi Carayol reports.

Chad's strongman leader is 'bulwark' for France against jihadists

France— Link

France's continued propping up of Chadian President Idriss Déby, a repressive autocrat, in whose country French troops are based for their counter-jihadist mission in the Sahel, appears to some like a return to the didgy old practices of the Françafrique system, opines The Economist. 

Up to 130 French jihadists could be repatriated from Syria

International— Link

Interior minister reported as saying fighters of French origin could be repatriated from Syria as US forces withdraw from that country.

Why so few French jihadists have returned from Syria

International— Investigation

Following the military rout of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, large numbers of French jihadists were forecast to return home. But in fact, those who have made the journey back represent relatively few of the estimated 700 who joined the ranks of IS in the Middle East. Since 2016, just 64 men and women jihadists have returned – and only seven so far this year. One principal reason is the logistical difficulties for those fleeing the zone and the high fees demanded by people smugglers. But the situation presents a potential security threat in that those who escape by their own means can become invisible to intelligence services.   Matthieu Suc reports.