France: President Macron announces end of Sahel military operation

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French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the end of Operation Barkhane, an offensive against Islamist insurgents in West Africa's Sahel region that was launched in 2013.

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said he was ending France's eight-year operation in the Sahel region of Africa, particularly in Mali, where the country's military has been waging a battle against Islamist insurgents.

At a press conference in Paris ahead of tomorrow's G7 Summit, President Macron said the Sahel region has become "the epicenter of international terrorism" in recent years, but said that France could not maintain a "constant" presence there.

"We cannot secure certain areas because some states simply refuse to assume their duties. Otherwise, it is an endless task," he said.

Macron added that the "long-term presence" of French troops " cannot be substitute" for nation states handling their own affairs.

Any role for the French army would be focused on training and equipping African security forces, Macron said, adding that the timeline is still to be finalized. He gave no further details about possible troop reduction numbers.

"The time has come: the continuation of our commitment in the Sahel will not be in the same way," Macron told reporters, while calling for a "profound transformation" and a new international force to provide security for the region.

France currently has 5,100 soldiers in the Sahel region, which spans half a dozen countries. A flash point is Mali, a former French colony that has seen a second military coup inside nine months.

 
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