PARIS, Aug 17 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The last batch of France’s Operation Barkhane troops left Mali on Monday, marking the end of nearly a decade of bilateral military cooperation.
“Today, at 13.00 (Paris time), the last military unit of the Barkhane force present on Malian territory crossed the border to Niger. It came from the Operational Desert Platform of [Mali’s northern region of] Gao, which was handed over to the Malian armed forces this morning,” the French armed forces said in a statement.
The announcement came shortly after activists in Gao and the capital, Bamako, staged protests demanding the departure of French forces from Mali by Wednesday.
They accused the French troops of providing support to militants after the army alleged that attackers who killed 42 soldiers in Gao’s Tessit town on Aug 7 may have benefited from external support.
A diplomatic fallout between Bamako and Paris over the deployment of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries to the Sahel nation expedited the departure of France’s 5,100-strong force from Mali. — NNN-AGENCIES