French soldier killed in Iraq 'anti-terror' operation
August 29, 2023 04:07 PM
A member of an elite French commando unit was killed Monday in Iraq while "supporting an Iraqi unit in an anti-terrorist operation", French President Emmanuel Macron's office said Tuesday.
Sergeant Nicolas Mazier, an air force paratrooper, "fell in combat while carrying out his mission", the Elysee Palace said in a statement, expressing Macron's "profound respect" for his "sacrifice".
It said other soldiers from the unit were also wounded.
An Iraqi security source in northeastern Kirkuk said that Iraqi and French troops were ambushed by Islamic State group jihadists late Monday in neighbouring Salah al-Din province.
In a battle lasting "more than five hours", an unknown number of French troops as well as three members of Iraq's anti-terrorist forces were wounded, the source added.
Mazier is the third French soldier to lose his life this month in Iraq, where the country's troops form part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a years-long campaign by an international coalition against the Islamic State group.
Two men, Sergeant Baptiste Gauchot and officer Nicolas Latourte, were killed in separate incidents in August, the first in a traffic accident and the second during a training exercise.
Around 600 French troops based across the Levant and Gulf region are involved in Inherent Resolve.
Nearly 2,000 people convicted over France riots
Nearly 2,000 people have been convicted in France over nationwide riots sparked in late June by the fatal police shooting of a teenager during a traffic stop near Paris, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said on Tuesday.
The minister had called for a "rapid, firm and systematic" response from magistrates to the worst urban violence in the country since 2005, with many courts holding fast-track trials for suspects.
Speaking to RTL radio, Dupond-Moretti said that out of 2,107 people tried, 1,989 had been found guilty and 1,789 had received prison sentences.
"I called on magistrates to be firm and they responded," Dupond-Moretti added. "It was question of restoring law and order."
The minister also said that 20 judicial facilities had been vandalised during the four nights of clashes, costing the taxpayer five million euros ($5.4 million).
The rioting began on June 27 after a police officer shot dead a 17-year-old boy with North African roots during a traffic stop west of Paris.
The riots were contained after the deployment of around 45,000 security forces on successive evenings, including elite police special forces and armoured vehicles.