The French military has named the 13 soldiers killed in an aircraft crash on Monday night. 

Two helicopters were providing cover for French paratroopers, who had been tracking a cell linked to the Islamic State when they collided in low altitude. 

Euro News reports that the country’s Army Minister, Florence Parly, said the accident happened in total darkness.

An army spokesperson, Col. Frederic Barbry, informed French media that the bodies of the soldiers will be repatriated soon. 

The country’s chief of defense staff, François Lecointre, noted that the black box had been found and an investigation into the accident is underway.

“It was with profound sadness and great emotion that we learnt of the incident,” Parly said. 

France has 4,500 soldiers in Mali and chose to maintain its military presence in the country after driving out Tuareg rebels linked to Al-Qaida in 2013. 

This is the single highest loss it has recorded in its time in the ECOWAS state. 

According to Reuters, it is also the largest loss it has suffered in 36 years, since an attack in Beirut Lebanon. 

The dead soldiers were listed as ADC Julien Carrette, CNE Benjamin Gireud, BCH Romain Salles de Saint Paul, CNE Clement Frisonroche, CNE Nicolas Megard, CNE Romain Chomel de Jarnieu, LTN Pierre Bockel, LTN Alex Morisse, MCH Jeremy Leusie, MDL Alexandre Protin, MDL Antoine Serre, MDL Valentin Duval, SCH Andrei Jouk.

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