A Canadian Forces pilot prepares to land in Bamako, Mali, as an advance team hit the ground earlier this summer. Canadian helicopters carried out their first support missions last week as part of their peacekeeping duties. (Jason Burles/CBC)

Canadian peacekeepers carry out first support missions in Mali

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Canadian troops have conducted their first two support helicopter operations as part of their UN peacekeeping duties in Mali.

Canada has 250 military personnel in the African country on a one-year mission to deliver UN forces into parts of the country that seldom see international troops and to conduct evacuation operations of UN causalities.

Two CH-147F Chinook battlefield transport helicopters and four armed CH-146 Griffon helicopters were deployed to Mali earlier this summer.

Members the Dutch Long Range Recconnaisance Patrol Task Group prepare for a deliberate operation on board a Canadian CH-147F Chinook helicopter from Camp Castor in Gao, Mali, on Aug. 15. (DND Combat Camera/ Cpl. Ken Beliwicz )

Canadian officials say two support missions ferried Dutch reconnaissance troops about 100 kilometres northeast of the UN chief operating base at Gao.

The operations took place on Wednesday and Saturday of last week

Both were carried out without incident.

Dutch troops did not encounter insurgents of jihadist groups attempting to overthrow the recently re-elected government of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The UN says 170 peacekeepers have been killed in Mali since the UN mission was conceived in 2013 following a jihadist takeover in the northern part of the country.

In March, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Canada would deploy an aviation task force to Mali for a period of 12 months.

The UN has more than 13,000 troops participating in the mission which is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.

With files from CBC

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