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“Opposition groups” or “jihadists”: General Lecointre responds to Sophie Pétronin

French forces deployed in Mali continue to follow the same line after the release of several hostages, including the French Sophie Pétronin. This is what the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General François Lecointre, hammered on Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces.

“There are comments that were made at the time of Ms. Pétronin’s release which, it seems to me, risk distorting the assessment that we should have of the situation in Mali, of the commitment of the armies. French ”, declared General Lecointre.

“Our adversary is not an armed group like any other […] We absolutely cannot imagine that this terrorist group could be compared or designated as an armed opposition group to the Malian regime, ”continued General Lecointre.

“It is indeed an international terrorist organization”

The chief of staff of the armed forces thus responded to comments made after her release by Sophie Pétronin, who did not speak of her guards as “jihadists”. “Call them what you want, I would say that they are armed opposition groups to the regime,” she said.

But for General Lecointre, “it is indeed an international terrorist organization and, for the part of this organization which is rife in Mali, among others a terrorist organization and terrorist groups which have pledged allegiance to Al-Qaida. “. He referred in particular to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

“It must be very clear to all the families who have lost their loved ones in the fight that we have been waging in Mali for years that we do not deviate from the line, that our fight remains the same and that it is just as legitimate. that it was, ”said the Chief of Staff.

“France involved in no negotiations”

“Regarding this release of hostages, I confirm that France has not been involved in any kind of negotiations with this terrorist group, which we will continue to fight with the utmost determination,” he said. added.

Ex-hostage Sophie Pétronin sets foot on French soil

Sophie Pétronin, the last French hostage in the world, regained freedom in Mali at the same time as two Italians, including a priest, and the Malian politician Soumaïla Cissé. These releases coincided with the release of several dozen prisoners presented as jihadists by Malian officials.

Behind the scenes, French soldiers did not hide their frustration at seeing so many jihadists released, including executives, captured by them and who could soon find them on the ground. Photos showing the triumphant reception given to several dozen detainees released by the Malian Tuareg leader Iyad Ag Ghaly, who heads the GSIM, have made Paris cringe.

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