January 16, 2019

UN Forces join Ivory Coast fighting in Abijan

A French attack helicopter flying over Abijan. We can safely assume that the Gbagbo forces do not possess ground to air missiles.

French and United Nations helicopters have fired on military camps operated by Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, in an attempt to halt attacks on civilians.

The strikes follow the seizure of Abijan airport by French troops under the United Nations banner onthe weekend.

The fighting for Abijan is now into its third day, with rebel fighters loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara attempting to seize the last big strategic prize since they swept down from the north in a lightning offensive last week.

They initially met little resistance but the main city of Abijan is a Gbagbo stronghold. With nowhere else to run it is fight or surrender time for the Gbagbo regime. For the moment they are fighting. This is making it increasingly hard for the United Nations to fulfill their mandate to protect civilians.

Pro-Ouattara commanders say they have launched their final assault on the city and expect to take it in a matter of days. But with a population of five million people in Abijan, mostly without food, water and electricity, ‘a matter of days’ might mean a major humanitarian crisis.

The UN has become increasingly reliant on the French military on the ground in the Ivory Coast to carry out attacks on their behalf. In todays action they asked the French to use attack helicopters to take out heavy weapons in two pro-Gbagbo military camps.

President Gbagbo’s days in power are numbered but because he is not giving up without a fight, ordinary civilians are dying in big numbers.

Newswarped hopes the fighting is over in hours rather than days. We also hope that the pro-Ouattara forces do not embark on a campaign of retribution against supporters of the former regime.