France plans to reduce its military presence in the Sahel region

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#France will reconsider its military strategy in the #Sahel region and likely reduce the number of troops deployed as part of #Operation #Barkhane after major military successes in 2020, the country’s defense minister said.
#Responding to a question about the 600 additional soldiers brought in to reinforce #Barkhane’s 4,500 soldiers last year, #Florence #Parly told #Le #Parisien daily in an interview published on #Monday, “#We will most likely have to adjust this device: a reinforcement by definition is temporary. ”

A decision will be made at the next joint summit of #France and the G5 #Sahel, the #West #African regional counterterrorism force, which includes #Burkina #Faso, #Mali, #Mauritania, #Niger and #Chad. The summit will be held in #February in N’djamena, the capital of #Chad, by #President #Emmanuel #Macron and the heads of the armed forces, she said.

#Parly noted the major military successes achieved by #Barkhane’s forces last year, neutralizing several senior al-Qaida, #Daesh and affiliated terrorist groups in the #Greater #Sahara, an area bordering #Mali, #Burkina #Faso and of #Niger, by attacking and disrupting their supply chains.

#But following two recent attacks that killed five #French soldiers, she acknowledged that security remains a problem because of “pernicious guerrilla methods” adopted by terrorist groups.

“At this very moment, we are working on the evolutions of the #Barkhane force in the coming months. ”

#She ruled out any negotiations with terrorist groups “who murder indiscriminately and have blood on their hands”, but expressed her willingness to engage with those who “have laid down their arms and who are not motivated by a radical ideology. and criminal ”, as part of the 2015 framework of the # #Algiers accord for peace and reconciliation which has not yet been implemented.

#Parly dismissed opposition criticism of the practicality of the operation launched nine years ago and of #France’s lack of support in its fight against terrorism.

#In the coming months, she said, the #Takuba force, a special joint force of #European and #American troops, will be fully operational in the region and ready to fight alongside the #Malian armed forces, particularly in #Menaka, a active sector for all #Qaida and its affiliated groups, where the recent attacks have taken place.

#Since the launch of #Operation #Barkhane in 2013, 49 #French soldiers have died.

#Last week, five #French soldiers were killed and others injured in two separate incidents after their armored vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in #Mali, according to the #French #Minister of the #Armed #Forces.

#More than 5,000 #French soldiers are deployed as part of #Operation #Barkhane which is led by #France alongside the G5 #Sahel countries to fight against terrorist groups in the region, in particular #Al-Qaida in the #Islamic #Maghreb and #Daesh in the #Great #Sahara.

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