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France to continue air support in Mali as troops drive back – SABC News

France will continue to support the Malian army in its fight against militants in the Sahel even after anti-terrorism operations were removed, but only in the absence of Russian troops, the military chief said on Friday.

Mali’s first government announced last month that it would withdraw its first 2,400 troops from Mali nearly a decade ago, as relations with the country’s ruling party reversed. earlier this year.

Controversy erupted over the government’s decision to postpone its democratic elections in February, as well as its alliance with Wagner’s Russian party.

But Barkhane’s chief of staff, General Laurent Michon, told reporters that neighboring Burkina Faso and France would continue to provide air support in a region without “Russian troops”.

“We will continue to provide assistance from the air by training those on the ground who can call for flights, direct them,” he said, adding that support would be provided. such for the troops in Burkina Faso and Niger, who share its territory. Mali.

A Malian military spokesman did not respond to a call for comment.

The country has struggled to control insurgency linked to al Qaeda since seizing the desert in the north in 2012, prompting France to send troops to relocate them next year.

The militants, now affiliated with the Islamic State, have rallied in recent years and captured swathes of the countryside despite the presence of foreign troops and UN peacekeepers.

There are fears France’s departure could undermine efforts to end violence and spread to Niger, Burkina Faso and other neighboring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions.

At least 10 people were killed and many more injured in Burkina Faso on Friday when militants attacked a gold mine in the northern region of Seno, in Niger, a local government official and the military said.

Barkhane’s operation would take four to six months to withdraw its troops from Mali.

France to continue air support in Mali as troops drive back – SABC News

Source link France to continue air support in Mali as troops drive back – SABC News

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