Last French troops leave Mali, ending nine-year deployment
France has announced that its final troops have left Mali, completing a withdrawal after a nine-year operation in the country. The operation was at the center of the Sahel region’s security crisis. On Monday, the French army said it had completed the logistical challenges of the pullout and it was completed in an orderly and safe fashion.
The withdrawal came amid negatively decreasing relations between Paris and Bamako. Bamako has increasingly turned to Russia to help them respond to groups linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda. France initially intervened in the country in 2013 to respond to the offensive by the ethnic-Tuareg separatist movement, which was allied with an al-Qaeda affiliate. In the announcement on Monday, the French President confirmed that France is remaining engaged in the wider Sahel region in the Gulf of Guinea and Lake Chad region. Niger will be the hub for French troops in the Sahel. French troops will not carry out missions or pursue armed groups into Mali now that the exit is complete.