Thu, 25 Feb 2021

France plans to withdraw some troops from Sahel

20 Jan 2021, 06:30 GMT+10

PARIS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- France would withdraw some of its troops from the Sahel region in Africa citing successes against Islamist militants and the arrival there of more European forces, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

Addressing military officers in his traditional New Year's message, Macron said "thanks to an increased effort in the Sahel-Saharan strip, the results are there."

"The results obtained by our forces in the Sahel, combined with the greater intervention of our European partners, will allow us to adjust our effort," he added without elaborating.

"The temporary reinforcements that I decided to deploy have enabled the Barkhane force to put in great difficulty terrorist groups, which find themselves cornered and reduced to cowardly acts," he said.

Last February, France sent 600 additional troops to the Sahel region, where they joined the Barkhane forces - an anti-insurgent operation led by the French military -- to prevent the region from becoming a safe haven for Islamist groups.

Some 4,500 French troops launched the Barkhane Operation in 2014 to help the Group of Five (G5) Sahel countries --- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- maintain control of their territory.

Macron said he would attend the next G5 Sahel summit scheduled for mid-February in Chad.

France is considering "more and more seriously to initiate an exit for its 5,100 soldiers engaged in the Sahel, in a war which in eight years has taken on the appearance of a bottomless pit," the French daily Le Monde reported in late December.

Eleven French soldiers were killed or wounded in Mali in past two weeks, bringing the French military mission's losses to 50, according to the daily.

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