On July 9, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would begin closing its bases in northern Mali before the end of the year.
“The shutdowns of these sections will start in the second half of 2021 and be completed by early 2022,” Macron said during a press conference following summit talks with the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger, according to the France-Press Agency (AFP).
The step is meant to reduce the number of French troops fighting against terrorist groups in the Sahel region of West Africa. French service members will withdraw from key bases in Kidal and Tessalit et Tombouctou.
According to President Macron, France plans to maintain 2,500 to 3,000 service members in the Sahel region for the long term.
Last month, Macron said that France’s Operation Barkhane in Sahel would end with French troops operating as part of broader international efforts in the region.
France suspended joint military operations with Mali on June 3 after a coup d’état by Malian army Colonel Assimi Goita, who took power after overthrowing the second president in nine months. Paris reversed the decision on July 5 after talks with Mali’s transitional authorities.
More than six years into France’s intervention in Sahel, the situation in the region is still far from being stable. Several terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS, are still active there.
- Operation Barkhane: French Troops Captured ‘High-Ranking’ ISIS Commander In Sahel
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