French army accuses rUSsian mercenaries of burying bodies near base

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French army accuses rUSsian mercenaries of burying bodies near base

The French army says it has filmed Russian mercenaries burying bodies near a Malian military base to falsely accuse France's departing forces of leaving behind mass graves.

The video, filmed with a drone and seen by AFP on Thursday, shows what appear to be Caucasian soldiers covering bodies with sand near the Gossi base in northern Mali.

A Twitter account with the name Dia Diarra said he was a former soldier and Malian patriot who posted images of corpses buried in sand and accused France of atrocities.

This is what the French left behind them when they left the base in Gossi We cannot keep silent! The account wrote.

France s general staff called the Twitter video an information attack and said it was very likely a fake account created by Wagner, a private Russian mercenary group.

France's army said comparing the photos published on Twitter against images taken by a special sensor allows them to draw a direct line between Wagner's activities and what has been falsely attributed to French soldiers.

This manoeuvre was to discredit the Barkhane force. It seems to be coordinated. It said it was representative of multiple information attacks that French soldiers have faced for several months.

France, the US and others accuse Wagner mercenaries of deploying in Mali as Paris winds down its almost decade-long military operation in the West African country.

Mali's military-dominated government denied the accusations and said the Russians in the country were military instructors.

France handed over control of the Gossi base to the Malian army on Tuesday as part of its withdrawal announced in February.

The French general staff warned of information warfare after the withdrawal from the base, which hosted 300 French soldiers.

Spokesperson Pascal Ianni said a report had been compiled based on the state of play to protect France against potential accusations, including arming terrorists and committing exactions.

Anti-French sentiment has grown in West Africa, where French forces have operated since 2013 to stem jihadist insurgencies, and social media campaigns have targeted French troops.

France's withdrawal from Mali came as swathes of territory remained under the control of rebels linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group and as tensions between Paris and Bamako grew over the deployment of Wagner mercenaries.