France to send extra 600 troops to fight Sahel extremists

Mark Esper

French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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France will deploy 600 additional soldiers in the African Sahel region to combat extremists, raising the amount of troops there to 5,100, the country’s defense minister said Sunday.

In a statement, Defense Minister Florence Parly said most of the reinforcements to the Barkhane force will be deployed in the three borders zone between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

“Another part of these reinforcements will be directly engaged within the G5 Sahel forces to accompany them in combat,” she said.

Parly added that Chad “should soon deploy an additional battalion” within the joint force of the G5 Sahel, which brings together Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in the three borders zone. It’s the epicenter of the fight against jihadist groups, including Islamic State in the Grand Sahara (ISIS-GS).

“The reinforcement … should allow us to increase the pressure against the ISIS-GS… We will leave no space for those who want to destabilize the Sahel,” she added.

French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of the G5 Sahel group launched a new plan to fight jihadists on Jan. 13.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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