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Pictures Report

RTS2MDZ0
French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Efforts led by France to stop a region on Europe's doorstep becoming a launchpad for attacks at home are increasingly trapped in an endless cat-and-mouse game with well-armed jihadists, who know the terrain and hide easily among civilians.
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8R
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment searches a man during an area control operation...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment searches a man during an area control operation in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27, 2019. The French soldiers seeking out jihadists in central Mali's savannahs were prepared for the sandstorms, the thunderstorms, the lack of anything resembling a road and the need to tow vehicles whose wheels kept getting stuck in floodplains. They knew getting information out of terrified villagers would be difficult.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8D
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment conducts an area control operation in the Gourma...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region. But as the multi-week Operation Barkhane wore on in Gourma district, where 400 French troops and 100 allied Malians searched for 50-odd jihadists they estimated were hiding in the shadows, the obstacles kept piling up.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8N
August 13, 2019
French soldiers patrol in an all-terrain armoured vehicle BvS10 produced by BAE Systems in the Gourma...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers patrol in an all-terrain armoured vehicle BvS10 produced by BAE Systems in the Gourma region. First, there were the storms, forcing them to abandon supper, pack up their mosquito nets and sleep contorted in their vehicles. Then up at 3 a.m. for a mission that couldn't start because the weather had grounded their helicopters at base. Then, flash floods turned sandy ground to sludge and burst the wadis so only their newly deployed tracked fighting vehicles could cross.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8I
August 13, 2019
Commander David talks with Almedi Ag Agissa, a vegetable grower who benefitted from a small aid project...
GOSSI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Commander David talks with Almedi Ag Agissa, a vegetable grower who benefitted from a small aid project to build a communal tool shed, as he conducts a Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) patrol in Gossi. When they reached the thatch-and-wood villages where they suspected jihadists were hiding. Men tended cows. Women pounded millet. Everyone smiled. And nobody told them anything. "We're not going to resolve this in a day," said Commander David. French military rules permit publication only of his first name. "This is going to take some time."

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC89
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) uses a sniffer dog to check for explosives...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) uses a sniffer dog to check for explosives during an area control operation. Efforts led by France to stop a region on Europe's doorstep becoming a launchpad for attacks at home are increasingly trapped in an endless cat-and-mouse game with well-armed jihadists, who know the terrain and hide easily among civilians. On a rare reporting trip with the French troops into central Mali, Reuters journalists saw first-hand why a five-year-old mission -- initially planned as a short-term stopgap to hand over to local forces -- may have many more years left to run.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7Z
August 13, 2019
Local women and children arrive at an abandoned clinic to receive medical care from the French military....
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Local women and children arrive at an abandoned clinic to receive medical care from the French military. The 4,500 French troops deployed in this patchwork of former French colonies for 'Operation Barkhane' face huge logistical challenges in hostile terrain. Hardest of all, they rely on the cooperation of a civilian population spread thinly across vast and remote spaces, often either sympathetic to the Islamists or terrified of informing on them.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8C
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment inspects a damaged house. Operation Barkhane was...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment inspects a damaged house. Operation Barkhane was launched in the wake of Operation Serval, a French offensive that pushed back Tuareg rebels and allied Islamists from northern Mali's vast desert in 2013. While Serval had brought moderate stability to northern Mali, unrest had spread to the country's more populated center, with attacks also reaching neighboring Burkina Faso, Niger and even Ivory Coast.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC80
August 13, 2019
French soldiers of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) set up a temporary forward operating base...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) set up a temporary forward operating base (TFOB) for the night in the Gourma region. With no end date announced at its launch, the follow-up operation would try to stabilize countries in the region by assisting their governments in a West African anti-terrorism force. Five years on, no end is in sight.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7M
August 13, 2019
Colonel Nicolas James, Commander of Desert Tactical Croup "Belleface", poses for a photo at the Operational...
Gao, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Colonel Nicolas James, Commander of Desert Tactical Croup "Belleface", poses for a photo at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao. "We have a dogged adversary, who is tough, drawing from a breeding ground that is favorable to him because the population is isolated," he told Reuters.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier.
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8L
August 13, 2019
An NH90 Caiman military helicopter lands next to a temporary forward operating base (TFOB).

REUTERS/Benoit...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
An NH90 Caiman military helicopter lands next to a temporary forward operating base (TFOB).

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC87
August 13, 2019
French soldiers of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment search a metal case during an area control operation...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment search a metal case during an area control operation in Ndaki. On the first day of one mission, in 40 degree Celsius (104 F), the French soldiers arrived in a hamlet 10km north of Ndaki town, next to a small wood where suspected jihadists had been seen fleeing earlier.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8B
August 13, 2019
Military clothes are found during an area control operation carried out by French soldiers of the "Belleface"...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Military clothes are found during an area control operation carried out by French soldiers of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) in Ndaki. They separated the women and children outside a thatched dome where camels chewed cud. They searched the men, took their smartphones and copied them onto a computer. One contained incriminating jihadist propaganda. "Is this your telephone?" a soldier asked the suspect, and he nodded. They fingerprinted him, but with just circumstantial evidence, they let him go. "I'm sure he's a jihadist," a French soldier guarding him later whispered. "He's making fun of us."

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7O
August 13, 2019
A French soldier from the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) inspects the perimeter of a touareg...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier from the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) inspects the perimeter of a touareg home in Ndaki. An elderly man in the flowing robes common to the Fulani people spread across the region brought out some fresh milk as a gesture of hospitality. Only two tried it, before they moved on to the next village.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8F
August 13, 2019
French soldiers of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) try to move an all terrain armoured vehicle...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) try to move an all terrain armoured vehicle BvS10 produced by BAE Systems from the mud in Ndaki. That night it rained hard, so the next afternoon a logistics team spent all day towing vehicles out of mud. The mission set off before noon. When the troops returned nearly nine hours later, they'd covered just 5 km.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC8P
August 13, 2019
A young Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) soldier poses for a photo during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki. The...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A young Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) soldier poses for a photo during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki. The next morning a joint Malian-French mission visited a Fulani village next to woodland where they had spotted some men fleeing. The village chief, a bearded man with a green scarf and sky-blue robe, denied seeing any armed men.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC83
August 13, 2019
Military police unit Captain Balassine invites locals to come for a free health check-up during Operation...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Military police unit Captain Balassine invites locals to come for a free health check-up during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki. "They want to talk to us but they are afraid," Captain Balassine later told Reuters. "The other day we were talking to a young girl," he continued. "First she lied. Then she said she was scared of talking because, after we leave, people will come and kill her."

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC86
August 13, 2019
A member of a French military medical unit provides medical action for the benefit of the population...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A member of a French military medical unit provides medical action for the benefit of the population in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC88
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment uses an explosive detection kit in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment uses an explosive detection kit in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7N
August 13, 2019
A drone operator from the French 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment launches a drone. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A drone operator from the French 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment launches a drone. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7X
August 13, 2019
French soldier of the 7th Alpine Hunter Battalion, Lieutenant Melissa, a communication officer, drives...
Gao, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldier of the 7th Alpine Hunter Battalion, Lieutenant Melissa, a communication officer, drives a Peugeot P4 at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD). REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC85
August 13, 2019
A Vanguard Armoured Vehicle (VAB) is seen during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A Vanguard Armoured Vehicle (VAB) is seen during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7Q
August 13, 2019
French soldiers patrol the streets of Gossi. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
GOSSI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers patrol the streets of Gossi. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC84
August 13, 2019
Sergent Aleksey, a French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment, looks through the window of an...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
Sergent Aleksey, a French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment, looks through the window of an armoured vehicle in the Gourma region. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7Y
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment prepares his equipment at a temporary forward operating...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment prepares his equipment at a temporary forward operating base (TFOB) in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7U
August 13, 2019
The French flag is hoisted at Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Gao, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
The French flag is hoisted at Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7V
August 13, 2019
A French flag patch is worn by a soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French flag patch is worn by a soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7S
August 13, 2019
A French soldier of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) eats at a temporary forward operating...
NDAKI, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
A French soldier of the "Belleface" Desert Tactical Group (GTD) eats at a temporary forward operating base (TFOB) in Ndaki. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7T
August 13, 2019
French soldiers adjust the cargo nets of a pallet at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao....
Gao, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers adjust the cargo nets of a pallet at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
MALI-SECURITY/FRANCE
RTS2MC7R
August 13, 2019
French soldiers go for an early morning run at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao. REUTERS/Benoit...
Gao, Mali
The Wider Image: French troops in Mali campaign face storms, mud, mistrust
French soldiers go for an early morning run at the Operational Desert Platform Camp (PfOD) in Gao. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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