the last French soldiers have left Mali

The last French soldiers of the Barkhane anti-jihadist force left Mali on Monday after nine years of presence, announced the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, against a backdrop of stormy relations between Paris and the ruling junta in Bamako.

“This day at 1:00 p.m. (from Paris, 11:00 GMT), the last detachment of the Barkhane force present on Malian soil crossed the border between Mali and Niger”, said the French general staff in a press release.

After nine years of presence, Barkhane “rearticulated out of the country in less than six months”he added. “This major military logistical challenge was met, in good order and in safety, as well as in total transparency and in coordination with all partners. »

“France remains committed to the Sahel”, underlined in another press release the French presidency, as well as “in the Gulf of Guinea and (in) the Lake Chad region with all partners committed to stability and the fight against terrorism”.

On February 17, noting that “the political and operational conditions were no longer met to remain engaged in Mali”France had decided to reorganize the device of Operation Barkhane “outside Malian territory”recalled the Elysée.

The military presence in the Sahel will be halved by the end of the year, to 2,500 soldiers. Niger has accepted the maintenance of an air base in Niamey and the support of 250 soldiers for its military operations on the Malian border.

Chad will continue to host a French hold in N’Djamena and France hopes to retain a contingent of special forces in Ouagadougou, the Burkinabè capital.

Pushed towards the exit by a hostile Malian junta, the French have transferred for the past six months all their grips to the Malian army, the last of which, in Gao (North), on Monday.

In total, France had to leave Mali some 4,000 containers and a thousand vehicles, including hundreds of armored vehicles, while the Sahel is experiencing an outbreak of violence, which the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, new ally of Bamako, is struggling to stem. .

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso since the start of the year, already more than the 2,021 recorded for the whole of 2021, according to AFP calculations based on a compilation of the specialized NGO Acled.

In nine years of presence in the Sahel, the French army has lost 59 soldiers.

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