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France to resume military operations in Mali

Armed cooperation was suspended between Paris and Bamako early last month following Mali's second coup in less than a year
French soldiers monitor a rural area during the Barkhane operation in northern Burkina Faso on 12 November 2019 (AFP/Michele Cattani)

France announced on Friday that it will resume joint military operations in Mali after suspending them early last month following the West African country's second coup in less than a year.

Following consultations with the Malian transitional authorities and other countries in the region France has "decided to resume joint military operations as well as national advisory missions, which had been suspended since 3 June", the armed forces minister said in a statement.

Last month's decision to suspend the joint operations came after Malian military officer Assimi Goita, who led last year's coup, ousted the country's civilian transitional president and prime minister.

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The move sparked diplomatic uproar, prompting the United States to suspend security assistance for Malian security forces and for the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali.

Both Mali and France play key roles in the fight against the violent armed groups active across much of the Sahel region.

France has around 5,100 troops in the Sahel under its Barkhane operation which spans five countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. 

On 10 June, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a major reduction of France's military presence in the Sahel, where forces have been battling armed groups for nearly a decade.

Macron said the existing Barkhane operation would end, with France's presence becoming part of the Takuba international task force of which "hundreds" of French soldiers would form the backbone.

The Takuba force currently numbers about 600 troops, half of whom are French. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Romania, and Sweden have also pledged to participate.

"France remains fully engaged, with its European and American allies, alongside the Sahel countries and international missions" to fight the groups, the armed forces ministry said in its statement on Friday.

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