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France Ends Military Mission In Mali

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Invited to Mali to fight terrorism, Parisian troops quickly fell out of favor with the African nation’s government. The last French soldiers left the military base in Gao, northern Mali, on Monday, ending a nine-year counterterrorism mission by France in its former colony. While French troops were invited to Mali to fight Islamism, relations with the African nation’s government have subsequently deteriorated.

“Today at 13:00 Paris time the final contingent of the Barkhane force still on Malian territory crossed the border between Mali and Niger,” read a statement from the French military, referring to Operation Barkhane, the codename of its Malian mission.

French President Emmanuel Macron had announced the operation’s end last summer and began withdrawing troops in February.

The French military initially deployed to Mali in 2013 at the behest of the Malian government. After pushing Islamist forces out of the northern half of the country, the military launched Operation Barkhane a year later, expanding its operation to Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger, all former French colonies.

The operation’s initial successes were never replicated, however. Jihadist attacks in Mali intensified throughout 2016 and 2017, with terrorism becoming more commonplace throughout the entire Sahel region in the following years. Anti-French sentiment rose in Mali, and France’s refusal to allow negotiations between the rulers of the Sahel and the insurgents on their lands only deepened the rift between the French troops and their African hosts.

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