On 7 July 2013, a French Diplomatic Core met with prominent Devine Tribe of Kidal cleric named Dembele and envoy of Sons of Azawad led by Akali and Ag-Boula in Djenne to initiate peace talks with DTK and SOA. The French Diplomatic Core peace task was designated to boost efforts to restore a functioning democracy.
The French Diplomatic Core came under attack during the course of the day by SOA protesters. Task Force Trident Command deployed QRF to assist the French Diplomatic Core.
After meeting with Dembele an assignation attempt was made on the cleric by SOA assassination cell. The TFTQRF commander immediately deployed medic team to extract Dembele.
The French intelligence community saw this as ideal opportunity to work together with DTK to locate and kill or capture those responsible for assignation attempt on Dembele. Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM) intelligence officials met with DTK agents within Niamey, Niger in August 2013.
The DRM led the effort to surveil and gather intelligence on the Named Areas of Interest (NAIs) within village of Louta, Burkina Faso. The DRM briefed Lt. Col. Custer the commander of the Task Force Trident Command (TFTC), about NAIs containing specific structures and SOA cell commander Ag-Boula who was responsible for the planning and execution of the assassination.
A Task Force Trident Intelligence Section (TFTIS) team call-sign Neptune-1 was deployed within Louta, Burkina Faso. Task Force Trident Chief of Staff Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence immediately started to plan a night raid code name Operation Rapier.
All planning and preparation of the raid was done at Task Force Trident Forward Operating Base Blue, Mopti Airport. Due to bad weather Operation Rapier was postponed.
Further intelligence by TFTIS team indicated that Ag-Boula moved his position out of the village of Louta to an old hotel. It was during this time that TFTIS intelligence operatives identified two German hostages that was kidnapped during December 2012.
A daylight raid was scheduled for 16 November 2013 known as Operation Gladius-Rapier, with helicopters entering Burkina Faso “low to the ground and undetected”. In the early morning hours of 16 November 2013 a SOA suicide bomber drove up to the gate of Mopti Airport and detonated his bomb-laden car.
Within minutes after the explosion a group of nearly dozen SOA insurgents attacked the north end of Mopti Airport, the base perimeter of TFT Operating Base Blue. Two Mali soldiers were killed and six other military personnel were wounded in the attack.
Two TFT helicopters were damaged during the attack, which resulted in TFTC delaying Operation Gladius-Rapier.
Within the next 48 hours TFT Operating Base Blue received broken satellite communication from Neptune-1 that their position has been compromised and were taking enemy fire, requesting assistance. After the broken transmission from the Neptune-1, the position and situation of the TFTIS team became unknown.
TFT Operating Base Blue immediately prepared to dispatch a quick reaction force (QRF), but command for launch from higher TFTC headquarters was delayed.