France will reconsider its military strategy in the Sahel region and is likely to reduce the number of troops deployed as part of Operation Barkhane after significant military success in 2020, the country’s defense minister said.
In response to a question about the additional 600 troops deployed to reinforce the 4,500 strong Barkhane troops last year, Florence Parly told Le Parisien daily in an interview published Monday: “We will probably need to adjust this unit: one reinforcement per definition is temporary. “
A decision will be taken at the next joint summit for France and the G5 Sahel, the West African regional terrorist force, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The summit will be held in February in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, by President Emmanuel Macron and army chiefs, she said.
Parly noted the great military successes achieved by the Barkhane forces last year by neutralizing several leading members of al-Qaeda, Daesh and affiliated terrorist groups in the Grand Sahara, an area bordering Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, by attacking and disrupting their supply chains. .
But in the wake of two recent attacks that left five French soldiers dead, she acknowledged that security is still a problem because of the “harmful methods of guerrilla warfare” adopted by terrorist groups.
“Right now we are working on the development of the Barkhane Force in the coming months.”
She rules out negotiations with terrorist groups “who are indiscriminately murdered and have blood on their hands”, but expressed a desire to engage with those who have “laid down their arms and are not motivated by a radical and criminal ideology”, in 2015 framework for Algiers agreement for peace and reconciliation that has not yet been implemented.
Parly removed criticism from the opposition about the practical operation launched nine years ago and that France lacked support in the fight against terrorism.
In the coming months, she said the Takuba force, a special joint force of European and American troops, will be fully operational in the region and ready to fight alongside the Malian armed forces, especially in Menaka, an active sector for all of Qaeda and its affiliated groups, where the most recent attacks took place.
Since the launch of Operation Barkhane in 2013, 49 French soldiers have died.
Last week, five French soldiers were killed and others injured in two separate incidents after their armored vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Mali, according to the French military minister.
More than 5,000 French troops are deployed during Operation Barkhane, led by France along with the G5 Sahel to fight terrorist groups in the region, particularly al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Daesh in the Greater Sahara.