Barkhane: French Soldiers Complete Departure From Mali

French Forces Complete Departure From Mali (News Central TV)

Following a dispute over the suspected employment of Russian mercenaries by Mali‘s military government, the last French military soldiers in Mali have moved to Niger.

According to a press announcement from the French Ministry of the Armed Personnel, French soldiers have now completely left Malian territory.

“The last military unit of the Barkhane Force present on Malian territory crossed the border between Mali and Niger,” at 11am local time Monday, the release says.

After insurgents groups captured northern Mali in 2012, the French army first deployed there in 2013, under Operation Serval.

The counterinsurgency Operation Barkhane took the role of Operation Serval in 2014. Niger will now serve as the base for Operation Barkhane.

Though the Malian populace has grown resentful of French soldiers in recent years, with multiple rallies occurring in cities around Mali calling for the forces to leave, former French President François Hollande was welcomed warmly in freshly liberated Timbuktu upon his arrival there in 2013.

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In the midst of escalating hostilities between France and Mali’s military government and France’s accusations that Mali is cooperating with mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organisation with connections to the Kremlin, French President Emmanuel Macron announced in February that French forces would withdraw over a period of 4-6 months.

A number of international media agencies, including Human Rights Watch, have written about suspected extrajudicial executions and other abuses carried out in Mali by Russian mercenaries.

The military administration of Mali has always refuted the charges and asserted that it only collaborates with authorised Russian instructors.

The ten-year battle in Mali has been one of the deadliest to date, with insurgents targeting both civilians and soldiers.

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Mali’s largest military facility in Kati, which is only 15 kilometers from Bamako, was attacked in July, resulting in the deaths of 42 Malian soldiers this month during an offensive in Tessit.

132 civilians were killed by alleged terrorists in a central Mali raid in June. This year, Mali also had problems with its neighbours in West Africa, with the regional organisation ECOWAS implementing sanctions after the country’s military leadership suggested delaying elections by a year. After the 2024 elections, the restrictions were lifted in July.

Assimi Goita, the temporary president of Mali, and Senegalese President Macky Sall had their first meeting in Bamako on Monday morning since the military administration seized control in a coup in 2020.

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