Thirteen French soldiers were killed on 25 November in a collision between two helicopters during an operation against jihadist militants in northern Mali.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep sadness” at the deaths, sharing his condolences for the families of the soldiers who lost their lives. The European Union also sent its “deepest condolences” to the families of the French soldiers.

“France’s commitment is an essential contribution to the EU’s efforts in the region”, said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

The country’s military has been present in Mali since 2013, when it launched an intervention against Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists who had overrun the country’s north. Britain is also supporting France’s anti-terrorist Barkhane force in Mali with heavy-lift helicopters, the United States is providing intelligence and funding for the G5 Sahel force and the EU has been running a military training mission in Mali since the beginning of the operation.

The EU Commission, however, pointed out that the other countries’ logistical support seems symbolic, compared to the 41 French soldiers who have died since 2013. France last week urged other European nations to increase their action in west Africa, warning that jihadist groups threaten the continent as a whole.