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B'ir Kora
Part of Toyota War
Date18—20 March 1987
LocationB'ir Kora
Result Chadian victory
Belligerents
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Libya Chad Chad
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Hassan Djamous
Strength
1,500 Libyans
Casualties and losses
800 killed
86 tanks destroyed
13 tanks captured
few
several trucks destroyed


The Battle of B'ir Kora was a military engagement during the Toyota War. Fought between the Libyan army and the Chadian FANT on the morning of 19 March 1987, the battle saw the Chadians encircle and destroy several Libyan units.[1]

History

Background

Following years of conflict between Libya and Chad over the Aouzou Strip, in 1983 the Libyan Army organized a expeditionary force and occupied northern Chad. The Libyans conducted operations in support of various insurgent groups fighting against the Chadian government of Hissène Habré. The Libyan forces in Chad possessed a significant material and air power advantage over the Chadian army, but by 1986 had lost the support of Chadian rebels they were supposedly supporting.[1] At the start of 1987, the Libyan Expeditionary forces continued to hold strategic positions in the Chadian Sahara. However, on 2 January of that year a pro-government Chadian army (FANT) engaged a Libyan force garrisoning the town of Fada at the Battle of Fada. The battle was a Chadian victory, and resulted in the Chadians pushing further into Libyan-controlled territory. The defeat at Fada provoked the Libyan military into launching a number of airstrikes in Central Chad, strikes which in turn spurred the French government (which supported the Chadian government) to bomb Libyan-held targets in Chad.[1] The arrival of the French Air Force in Chad effectively nullified the Libyan Air Force's ability to conduct combat operations against FANT.[2]

Battle

First engagement

In early March, Chadian commanders led by Hassan Djamous decided the Libyan Expeditionary Forces needed to be reduced in size before the Libyans could be driven from Chad altogether. To accomplish this, it was decided that the Chadian defenses around Fada would be intentionally weakened; it was hoped that this reduction would be detected and that the Libyans would launch a counterattack to retake the town. FANT forces also launched a number of hit-and-run attacks against Libyan positions in Ouadi Doum (alternatively spelled Wadi Doum), where the Libyans had established an airbase.[1]

In mid March, the Libyan army organized a task force of 1500 men and advanced against Fada.[1] However, on the evening of 18 March the Libyans were surround by multiple FANT units near B'ir Kora. When the Chadian attack began at dawn on the 19th, the Libyans (who had arranged their tanks and other vehicles to form makeshift laagers) were unable to hold their camp's perimeter when faced with the highly mobile Chadians. To draw the Libyans out of their defensive positions, the Chadians launched a diversionary attack against one segment of the Libyan defenses, while also preparing a much larger attack aimed at the opposite side of the Libyan line. The diversion worked, and when the Libyans committed their reserves to meet the Chadian feint, the main Chadian force was able to penetrate the Libyan rear and cause havoc. The Libyan defenses soon collapsed, resulting in the destruction of the Libyan force.[1][3][4]

Second engagement

As the initial Libyan task force was being destroyed by the FANT ambush, the encircled Libyans were able to request reinforcements from Ouadi Doum. These requests were granted by the Libyan commander at Ouadi Doum, who dispatched a second task force to relieve the embattled first. However, by the time the relief force was dispatched the first Libyan force had already been destroyed, and in the intervening time the Chadians had begun to plan a second ambush. Just as had happened with the first force, the Chadians attacked and overran the Libyan relief force 12 miles north of B'ir Kora on 20 March.[1]

Casualties

The engagements at B'ir Kora resulted in heavy casualties for the Libyan army; both the initial task force and subsequent relief force were nearly annihilated; in total, the Libyan army had lost 800 men killed, 86 tanks destroyed, and 13 tanks captured.[1]

Aftermath

The Chadian victory at B'ir Kora paved the way for FANT and other pro-government forces to mount further attacks against the Libyan army's positions in Northern Chad. These conflicts—collectively known as the Toyota War—continued until September 1987, and resulted in the withdraw of Libyan soldiers from Northern Chad.[1]

References

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