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World: The French soldiers retrove the Timbuktu camp to the Malian army

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Des policiers de la mission de l'ONU au Mali (Minusma) sécurisent l'accès à la Grande Mosquée de Tombouctou, le 9 décembre 2021 © Florent VERGNES of the police officers of the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) secure access to the Great Mosque of Timbuktu, December 9, 2021

The Barkhane French Antijahist Force has made Timbuktu camp on Timbuktu to the Malian army after almost nine years of uninterrupted presence in this Northern Mali hold, have found AFP correspondents.

The French flag was brought back and the Malian flag hoisted in its place on the base, in front of a small committee of French and Malian soldiers and local and UN authorities.

The French General Etienne du Peyroux, head of Operation Barkhane in Mali, exchanged a frank handshake with the new Malian commander of the camp. It symbolically offered a wide wooden key, under the low altitude flight of a French military aircraft.

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about 150 French soldiers stayed at Timbuktu for a start of French withdrawal in April 2013.

"For us, it is a page that turns. But the mission continues. My soldiers and I will continue our mission in Mali," Told the Press Captain Florian, who commanded the base before the award.

France "will be present otherwise," said the general of Peyroux, adding that "it is finally the purpose of Operation Barkhane: to allow Mali to take his destiny in hand (...) but still with partnership".

The new Commander Malien did not speak.

The final departure of French soldiers represents a turning point. After Kidal and Tessalit, Barkhane completes his disengagement from a part of northern Mali, in accordance with the reorganization of the scheme announced in June, which goes hand in hand with a gradual reduction of the workforce at the Sahel.

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It is also in Timbuktu, the Holy City of UNESCO World Heritage Islam, which President François Hollande had formalized the beginning of the French intervention on February 2, 2013.

The day had been triumphant for m . Holland and his Malian counterpart at the time, Dioncounda Traoré, witnesses of liaison scenes greeting the end of eight months of Jihadiste yoke. Mr. Hollande described these moments of "more beautiful day of political life".

almost nine years later, jihadist groups spread and grouped under the Cup of Al-Qaeda Global Nebula and the Organization of the Islamic State Group. They expanded their influence on Niger and Burkina Faso neighbors.

Their presence, according to a report from Think-Thank International Crisis Group, is "hegemonic" in large territories of the North and the center of Mali.

between Timbuktu, Kidal and Tessalit, they are 425 French soldiers who were disengaged from the three bases. The French numbers in the Sahel will pass "about 5,000 soldiers in the summer of 2021" about 3,000 in the summer of 2022 ", according to General Laurent Michon, Commander of Barkhane. New discounts will take place by 2023.

France tries to reinvent its commitment in the region, emphasizing an internationalization of military effort by further involving its European allies.

It also puts on the rise of local armies, which remain under-equipped and undercamed despite eight years of training provided by international partners.

This rearticulation takes place in a tense political context: the relations between Paris and Bamako have tensioned from the double coup in Mali (August 2020 and May 2021) and Barkhane faces a growing hostility in the area.

Next to the Now French camp is installed a large UN camp with several thousand blue helmets. A Malian air base must replace the French right of way.

BUR-AH / LAL / CL

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