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France Says Russians Buried Bodies in Northern Mali in Smear Effort
By Staff, Agencies
The French military says it has filmed Russian mercenaries burying bodies near an army base in northern Mali. France says it suspects the operation was part of a disinformation campaign against its troops.
France's military has released footage that appears to show soldiers burying bodies in northern Mali, which it says is part of a smear campaign by Russia's mercenary Wagner Group.
The French say the move to discredit their forces is part of a coordinated campaign of multiple information attacks over recent months.
The French army says it filmed the video near the Gossi base in northern Mali, which it has now handed over to Malian troops.
It says the aim appears to be to falsely accuse France's departing forces of leaving behind mass graves.
The video, filmed by a "sensor" drone and seen by both the AFP and Associated Press news agencies, shows what appear to be Caucasian soldiers covering bodies with sand.
It was filmed some 4 kilometers from the base immediately after the handover.
Several tweets posted on accounts that support Russia, or fake accounts allegedly created by Wagner, blame the French for the killings.
France says the drone images allow them to "draw a direct line" between Wagner's activities and the actions attributed to its soldiers.
"This maneuver to discredit the Barkhane force seems coordinated. It is representative of multiple information attacks French soldiers have faced for several months," it said.
Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated sharply since a military junta seized power in 2020.
Deepening ties between the Malian regime and Moscow have hastened the end of Barkhane, France's decade-long military operation in the West African country.
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