France 24’s special correspondent in northern Mali, Matthieu Mabin, was able to enter the Ametetai valley, where a decisive battle between French forces and jihadists is raging. Here is his exclusive report.
This is where the final phase of France’s “Operation Serval”, launched on January 11 against Islamist groups in Mali, is unfolding.
It is also where two of the four French soldiers who have died over the course of the operation were killed, and where the French hostages taken by AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) were held.
And it is here that the Chadian army says it recently killed two of the main jihadist leaders, Abu Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
A vast inferno of sand and stones situated between Kidal and Tessalit in the northeastern region of the country, the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range is currently the principal combat zone where French and Chadian forces are facing off against Islamists. In cave after cave, “meter by meter”, as French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian phrased it, soldiers are searching for Islamists tucked away in last-resort hiding places.
Matthieu Mabin, FRANCE 24’s special correspondent in the region, was able to accompany French soldiers on their mission.
Date created : 2013-03-07