A Ukraine-born French legionnaire has died, succumbing to injuries sustained while on a mission in Mali, when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off. This brings the death toll of legionnaires in the Sahel since 2013 to 42.
Dmytro Martynyouk, 28, served as a brigadier (a rank equivalent to corporal) in the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment. He was injured on April 23, when an IED exploded under his tanker truck during a patrol in central Mali. He was airlifted to France and treated at the HIA Percy, a military hospital near Paris, but passed away on Friday, the French government said in a statement on Saturday.
L’@armeedeterre pleure la disparition du brigadier Dmytro Martynyouk, du #1REC, des suites de ses blessures au cours d’une opération contre des groupes armés terroristes au Mali. Tous mobilisés autour de sa famille, ses proches et ses camarades. @COMLE_DRPLE, @Chefdecorps1RECpic.twitter.com/uQJShgtxwB
His death brings to 42 the total number of French legionnaires who have been killed since the military campaign in the Sahel – the part of Africa just south of the Sahara Desert – began. Another soldier was injured in the same incident, but his condition is said to be stable.
France has been engaged in counter-insurgency missions in Mali since 2013, when its former colony asked for assistance against Islamist forces and tribal rebels. The anti-government forces had gained in strength after the French-championed NATO destabilization of Libya in 2011. The current Operation Barkhane encompasses the wider Sahel area, and is conducted in co-operation with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger.
Seven years on, there is no indication that the French troops will be withdrawn any time soon. On the contrary, Paris has sent some 600 additional soldiers to the Sahel this year, boosting their numbers to more than 5,000. The prolonged deployment has fostered discontent in the hosting nations, with French Foreign Legion troops, in particular, loathed by locals for their sometimes- rowdy behavior. Meanwhile, other NATO members have been reluctant to maintain their assistance to the French-led operation.
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