The French presidency is preparing to unveil on Thursday, June 10 in the afternoon a beginning of the withdrawal from the Sahel of the soldiers of the anti-jihadist operation Barkhane, in particular in Mali, the scene of a recent new coup, learned the 'AFP from three sources close to the case.
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These announcements, details of which are not yet known, are part of the political will already outlined by Emmanuel Macron to reduce the French military presence in the area in the medium term. The head of state is due to hold a press conference on international issues at 4.30 p.m. Asked by AFP, the army staff refused to comment on the future of the main foreign operation of the French army. Operation Barkhane and the situation in the Sahel were on the menu for a Defense Council meeting on Wednesday, according to several sources consulted by AFP, all of whom requested anonymity.
Operation Barkhane has several bases in Mali, some of which could be closed in the medium term, according to two sources.
By 2023, the French workforce should turn around 2,500 people according to one of these sources.
Two of them also mentioned a possible summit of different European countries to discuss the future of military engagement in the Sahel.
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Paris is deploying some 5,100 soldiers against jihadists affiliated with the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, a major support for the weakened armies of the Sahel states who are struggling to fight them alone. In mid-February, during a summit in N'Djamena with G5 Sahel partners (Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania), the French president postponed the expected decision to initiate the withdrawal and finally announced that Paris did not intend to reduce
Barkhane's workforce "
". However, he had sketched out an exit strategy, in favor of European reinforcements ready to join them, while France has been fighting massively the jihadists in the Sahel since early 2013.