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“You fell for France, fighting for her, until the last breath”. The emotion was palpable this Tuesday in Thierville-sur-Meuse, not far from Verdun. It is in this commune that the 1st regiment of hunters is located, to which belonged the brigadier-chief Tanerii Mauri and the hunters of the first class Dorian Issakhanian and Quentin Pauchet, who died for France on December 28, in Mali.
France paid them a national tribute on Tuesday. The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, facing the three coffins decorated with the tricolor flag, returned to the circumstances of the death of the three soldiers, and the cowardice of the murderous act. “A few kilometers from the Hombori base, from where you started, your route stopped. You have been carried away by a blind enemy, with no eyes to face your gaze. The calm and deep gaze of freedom. You wore this look until the last moment. “
“France is proud of those who have chosen it”
The Minister, visibly very moved and with a tight voice, continued on the strength of their commitment. “You knew that better than anyone. Serving France is not a profession. It’s a passion. It is the gift of oneself, without reservation. A burning desire that knows neither age nor time. It is to obtain the recognition of France without seeking it. Because France is proud of those who have chosen it. When her children commit to her, she rejoices. When her children fight for her, she rises. And when her children have given everything for her, she cries. “
These three victims of the terrorists were all very young. Tanerii Mauri “was only 19 years old” when he enlisted in French Polynesia, demonstrating a remarkable “warrior spirit”, said the minister. Quentin Pauchet had for his part “the passion for mechanics” which he achieved by becoming a Leclerc tank pilot, showing, with “humility”, an “infinite courage”. As for Dorian Issakhanian, he was “combative, serene in all circumstances”, she praised.
Monday, several hundred anonymous but also firefighters, soldiers and veterans had already paid a popular tribute to these three soldiers. The crowd had gathered on the Alexandre-III bridge to see the funeral procession of three cars pass, flanked by motorcycles of gendarmes lined up in ears, who accompanied them to the hotel des Invalides.
The three soldiers died on December 28, while carrying out an escort mission in an area bordering Niger and Burkina Faso. Their vehicle had run over an improvised explosive device that day, leaving them no chance of survival. The attack was claimed by GSIM, a jihadist group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
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Two other French soldiers died on January 2 in Mali, in identical circumstances. This brings to 49 the number of French soldiers killed in the Sahel since 2013 in the anti-jihadist operations Serval then Barkhane, which deploys 5,100 soldiers in this immense area, faced with jihadist violence and a security crisis which have left thousands of civilians dead and military in recent years.