After the successes against militant Islamists and the support from the European armed forces, France wants to withdraw some of its troops from the Sahel region in Africa, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.
“The results of our armed forces in the Sahel, coupled with the stronger intervention of our European partners, will allow us to adjust our efforts,” Macron said, speaking to military officers in his traditional New Year’s message, Reuters reported.
Last year, France sent 600 additional troops to the Sahel to join its counter-terrorism forces in Barkhane. The total number was 5,100 soldiers. Diplomatic sources told the news agency that Paris is expected to announce a partial withdrawal in mid-February.
Macron and the regional heads of state will discuss the matter during the next G5 Sahel summit, scheduled for mid-February in Chad.
Despite the increased efforts and the positive results that Paris praised, the situation in the region remains fragile as 5 French soldiers have been killed during an “intelligence mission” in Mali since the beginning of the year, while 4 UN peacekeepers were killed most recently this week. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group in Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) took responsibility for the first attack in a statement from its propaganda platform Al-Zallaqa.