Niamey, Niger — More details continue to come to light on the fateful ambush in Niger on a 12 man team of U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha members, or what is known as a Green Beret ODA, and their Nigerien Army counterparts. French media are reporting that an unknown number of French Special Forces along with French warplanes responded to the 3rd Special Forces Group Green Berets call for help as they fought through withering gunfire from a superior number of insurgents.
The French Special Forces were also in Africa assigned to France’s counter-insurgency mission known as Operation Barkhane. Operation Barkhane which has over 3,000 French military forces along with their special operations units assigned to it, began in August 2014 to quell the rising terrorist presence and activities within Sahel region of Western Africa. Based in the capitol city of N’Djamena, Chad, Operation Barkhane was to be France’s “pillar of counterterrorism operations” with its focus being on al-Qaeda linked and other terrorist organizations within Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and parts of Chad itself.
The French Special Forces have an undisclosed number of its elite forces operating in Burkina Faso that shares a large border with Mali and southwest Niger near the Tongo Tongo region where the ambush on the Green Beret ODA took place.
French media is reporting today that French Special Forces responded to the Green Berets’ call for help and helicoptered in two teams to the ambush in Tongo Tongo. Where the French Special Forces soldiers were reported to have gotten into a firefight with elements of the terror group, al-Qaeda in the Magreb (AQIM) which may well have turned the tide for the Americans.
Also reported were two French Mirage 2000 warplanes dispatched to the area of where the Green Berets were under siege to provide close air support, only to be unable to provide air cover due to “terrain concerns and constraints.” This generally intimates that either there were issues visualizing the site due to dense foliage or that the Green Berets and the AQIM insurgents were locked in hand-to-hand distance levels of fighting that the French warplanes couldn’t differentiate between friend or foe battle lines.
After the gun battle subsided, French helicopters returned to evacuate American and Nigerien dead and wounded back to Niger’s capitol city of Niamey with two wounded Green Berets being evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for further medical care.
SOFREP will continue to bring you updates on this fluid situation as more information comes available.
Feature image courtesy of: Associated Press