France to deploy 600 more troops in Africa's Sahel
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 02 February 2020 11:16 AM
France will soon be sending 600 more soldiers to Africa's Sahel region, where it already has thousands of troops stationed as part of a counter-terrorism mission.
Defense Minister Florence Parly said in a statement on Sunday that the reinforcements would mostly be deployed to the border area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, which is beset by gruesome violence from Takfiri terrorist groups.
Parly added that another part of the reinforcements would join the G5 force in Sahel region, where France already has about 4,500 troops, alongside a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force.
The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.
The fresh deployment will increase the number of French boots on the ground in the region to 5,100.
As a former colonial power seeking significant military presence in Africa, France decided to send thousands of soldiers in 2013 to try to prevent separatist forces from reaching Mali's capital, Bamako.
But with the French military presence failing to bring the situation under control, the UN also deployed its peacekeeping forces in the region.
Terrorist groups, linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh, have strengthened their foothold across the arid Sahel region, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking local ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.
The United Nations declared in July last year that the spread of terrorist attacks in West Africa was so fast that the region had to consider bolstering its response beyond current military efforts.
In 2017, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania launched the G5 Sahel task force to counter militancy in the region.
Since the crisis began, thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced.
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