France to withdraw more than 2,000 soldiers from the African Sahel – .

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France to withdraw more than 2,000 soldiers from the African Sahel – .


PARIS (AP) – France will withdraw more than 2,000 troops from an anti-extremism force in Africa’s Sahel region and pivot its military presence to specialized regional forces, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

PARIS (AP) – France will withdraw more than 2,000 troops from an anti-extremism force in Africa’s Sahel region and pivot its military presence to specialized regional forces, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.
Macron announced a future reduction in France’s military presence last month, arguing that it is no longer suited to the needs of the region. The French Barkhane force, operating in Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, had also encountered opposition from some Africans.
After discussions on Friday with the leaders of the African countries concerned, Macron announced that France would reduce its strength to 2,500 to 3,000 men in the long term. The country currently has 5,000 troops in the region.
“We will do it in stages,” Macron said, with the next six months dedicated to dismantling Operation Barkhane and reorganizing the troops.
French troops have been present in Mali since 2013, when they intervened to force Islamist extremist rebels out of power in cities in the north of the country. Operation Serval was later replaced by Barkhane and expanded to include other countries with the aim of helping stabilize the Sahel region as a whole.
Islamic militants, however, have continued to launch devastating attacks against the military fighting them as well as increasingly against civilians.
Hundreds of people have died since January in a series of massacres targeting villages on the border with Niger and Mali.
While governments in the Sahel have embraced military aid from France, some critics have compared their presence to a vestige of French colonial rule.

The Associated Press

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