France resumes joint military operations with Mali

France 'remains fully engaged, with its European and American allies, alongside the Sahel countries'

French troops carry weapons at the 101 military airbase near Bamako before their deployment to the north of Mali.
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France is resuming joint military operations in Mali after consultations with the Malian transitional authorities.

France has "decided to resume joint military operations as well as national advisory missions, which had been suspended since June 3", the armed forces ministry said.

"France remains fully engaged, with its European and American allies, alongside the Sahel countries and international missions."

The country has more than 5,000 troops in the Sahel region under its Barkhane operation which spans five countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – but is looking to reduce that number.

France suspended joint military operations with Malian forces to add to the international pressure calling for the return of civilians to positions of power.

The decision to suspend operations came after Assimi Goita, who led last year's coup, ousted the country's civilian transitional president and prime minister.

That move sparked diplomatic uproar, prompting the US to suspend security assistance for Malian security forces and for the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States to suspend Mali.

On June 10, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a major drawdown of France's military presence in the Sahel.

Mr Macron said the existing Barkhane operation would end, with France's presence becoming part of the so-called Takuba international task force in which "hundreds" of French soldiers would form the backbone.

That Takuba force currently numbers about 600 troops, half of whom are French.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Romania and Sweden have also pledged to participate.

"France remains fully engaged, with its European and American allies, alongside the Sahel countries and international missions" to fight the jihadist groups which are rife in the Sahel, the armed forces ministry said.

Updated: July 03, 2021, 1:43 PM
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