French Forces to Combat Mali ‘Terrorists’

Written by | Monday, October 28th, 2013

French President François Hollande stated last Friday (25 October) that French, Malian and UN forces had launched a large-scale military operation in Mali to combat terrorism and restore stability in the country ahead of legislative elections.
A day earlier, France’s armed forces announced that it had launched a significant operation with Malian and United Nations forces to combat the growing presence of Islamist forces in Mali. It is supposedly the largest such military action in the country since France launched an intervention in January 2013, after Islamist forces exploited a rebellion by Tuareg separatists to seize control of the northern parts of the country. According to Hollande, while terrorism had taken root across the Sahel, including northern Mali, “We never said that our intervention would bring an end to terrorism in the region.” The French President also stressed that there have been several victims of suicide bomb attacks over the past few days that killed two Chadian soldiers and injured six other UN peacekeepers in an attack on a checkpoint.
Recent months have seen a rise in violence in Mali in the form of both attacks by Islamists, as well as fighting between security forces and Tuareg separatists. Yet, according to a high-ranking source in the French army, such incidents have remained relatively small in scale and have been perpetrated largely by groups who do not have the resources or ability to engage in a long-term conflict. While the UN Security Council originally mandated a 12,600-strong force in the country, it has currently just 5,200 troops on the ground. With the increased incidence of armed attacks, the UN has recently appealed for more troops and helicopters to be sent to Mali to help it with its peacekeeping operation.

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