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France resumes joint military operations with Mali

France announced Friday that it will restart joint military operations in Mali, after suspending them early last month following the West African country’s second coup in the space of 9 months.

Following consultations with the Malian transitional authorities and the countries of the Sahel region France has “decided to resume joint military operations as well as national advisory missions, which had been suspended since June 3”, the armed forces minister said in a statement.

Last month’s decision to withhold the joint operations came after Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita, who led last year’s coup, ousted the country’s civilian transitional president and prime minister.

That move provoked diplomatic uproar, prompting the United States to suspend security assistance for Malian security forces and for the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali.

Both Mali and France play key roles in the fight against a bloody jihadist insurgency plaguing the Sahel region.

France has around 5,100 troops in the Sahel under its Barkhane operation which spans five countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. 

On June 10, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a major drawdown of France’s military presence in the Sahel where forces have been battling jihadist insurgents for nearly a decade.

DOMINIQUE FAGET / AFP