The French army accuses Russian mercenaries Wagner of manipulating the Sahel region

Mercenaries close to the Kremlin tried to accuse Barkhane of abuse. The military filmed the fraud.

The message has so far gone almost unnoticed: about 500 views on Twitter, almost none. The video was released Thursday afternoon, after Wednesday’s first preview message about “what the French left behind when they left Josie base.” The camp returned to the Malian armed forces on Tuesday as part of the French disengagement in Mali. Terrified, Dia made a certain Diarra”veteran“Mali and”Political analystIt broadcasts pictures of bodies buried under the sand. We distinguish enough of them to identify corpses, and too few to recognize them. “We can’t be silentHe writes like a detective… He began publishing his message, broadcasting it, and commenting on it. Some are indignant, others are suspicious. a “media attack“In progress. The French army kicked it out and attempted to defuse it by providing evidence of tampering, particularly in the figaro And a bunch of other media.

The army continues after hesitation. Barkhane, after nine years in Mali, must manage his own departure and fear cascading consequences. The manipulation also seems blunt enough not to impress the fiercely anti-French outside circles: would Barkhane really leave the corpses near the camp it occupied? “Today, in the digital environment, everything leaves traces”, comments a military source. The military does not want Internet search enginesJose“to be associated for a long time with”Mass graveIt also does not want to give time for rumors to spread on social networks. The French army finally wants to take revenge on the Wagner mercenaries responsible for the manipulation, he says. The struggle for influence is a battlefield on which France wants to try its hand in the counterattack.

not the first

This is not the first time that Paris has suspected Wagner of spreading false information, as in the Central African Republic for example. This group, close to the Kremlin and now linked to the ruling military junta in Bamako, has set itself the goal of undermining France’s influence in the Sahel. Between 1,000 and 1,100 mercenaries would be present in Mali today, according to the French army, which set itself a goal to counter its influence. “Defaming Wagner within 12-18 months is credible‘, confirms a high-ranking officer by formulating an additional target for France in the Sahel.

A military source said the possibility of an attack on Barkhane’s reputation was in the air. Inside Barkhane, we expected a re-emergence of rumors of gold smuggling and arms smuggling, which fueled anti-French demonstrations against the besieged caravan in Tira in Niger in November last year, or accusations of abuses. When Dia Diarra’s first tweet appeared, the services were alerted. Diarra’s profile has been identified as a possible fake. It appears on another account, under the name Alexander Murillo, on the Russian network VK. Published regularly. The Twitter account was created in January 2022. It’s “ It is already known that he tampered with previous false testimony to support the actions of the Russian media confirms the army.

On the night of April 20-21, the Army sent an air sensor to fly over Josie, who had just surrendered. He films soldiers, possibly Malians, sleeping on the floor. And next to them erected tents. It is possible that Wagner soldiers are there. On April 21, the mass grave video was released. But in the sky, aerial means observed from the sky make up the scene. The sequence was not depicted in full, because the available means were not permanently available above the place, as it is said.

On the photos provided by the French army and reviewed by them figaroThere are about ten soldiers. French analysts were assured that their dress and posture indicated that they were not Malian soldiers but Wagner mercenaries. They were seen covering the bodies with shovels of sand. According to the military, it was possible to transport the remains to the site, and install them for a stop. They could come from the operation carried out by Malian forces and Wagner in Homburi on April 19 that led to abuses according to the United Nations. There is a Russian who would have lost his life.

“misinformation”

In another video, we see two men facing the mass grave, as if taking pictures. Then one moves sideways, as one would imagine when taking a video. The movement agrees with what was stated in Diarra’s account. Time and geolocation information makes it possible to determine the time and location of the scene, 3.6 km from Camp Josie. Another video shows four Dong Feng chariots leaving the base. These vehicles do not correspond to those of the French army. The package of clues is sufficient for the employees. Some will ask for more evidence? Pictures “It will fuel the debate about misinformation‘, we answer. They will not shy away from other conspiracy theories.

Nothing indicates that the Malian army was aware of the operation attributed to Wagner’s men. But a detachment from Mali captured Camp Jossi last Tuesday. On the French side, we suffice with a warning: “You have to choose your alliesThe warning letter was taken up publicly by General Burchard, Chief of Defense Staff, who decided to make counter-information one of his priorities. During his last trip to the coast, he repeated to his interlocutors that Wagner was threatening to “destruction»The army and the monopoly of the wealth of Mali. “Wagner’s weak point is that it represents, first and foremost, a business model: when Wagner intervenes in a region that corresponds to the Russian sphere of interest and influence, he has to find something to finance himself, and I think that’s what you want. You should try to break“, the general announced during a hearing before the Defense Committee of the National Assembly in February.”For the rest, Prigogine (Wagner’s boss, editor’s note) is not a soldier but a good business manager – or a good mafia, as you like. He has a few soldiers to develop this kind of business, who don’t need to do grand strategy and who are efficient on their record and unrestrained, even without faith or law.‘, he added. The high-ranking French were determined not to allow this new adversary to mistreat him.

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