A UN report killed 19 civilians and three armed men at a wedding in Mali in January in a French airstrike.
The French Ministry of Defense has challenged the discovery, saying the January 3 strike targeted “armed terrorist groups.”
France has an army of 5,100 men throughout the Sahel region to fight the militants associated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups.
The United Nations conducted an investigation after locals claimed that a helicopter had fired at people attending a wedding near the village of Bounti in central Mali.
The investigation revealed that the wedding was held and “there were about 100 civilians at the scene of the strike,” AFP news agency quoted a UN report.
According to the report, about five militants, believed to be members of the jihadist group belonging to al-Qaeda, also attended the celebration.
“The strike-affected groups were overwhelmingly made up of civilians, who were protected under international humanitarian law,” the United Nations said.
“This strike raises serious concerns about respect for the principle of hostilities,” he added.
In a statement, the French Ministry of Defense said UN investigators “have a lot of reservations about the methodology used.”
The ministry added that it “consistently maintains and strongly reaffirms” that the airstrikes targeted “armed terrorist groups.”
According to Reuters, the UN investigation was conducted by the human rights department of the mission in Mali.
The team analyzed satellite images and visited the area in late January, interviewing more than 400 people.
You may also be interested: