On the ground

France withdraws last soldiers from Mali amid jihadist resurgence

France withdraws last soldiers from Mali
France withdraws last soldiers from Mali © France 24

Gao was once a French army base operating 24/7, but now an eerie quiet has settled in. With the departure of the very last logistical convey of 150 vehicles, the only ones left in the camp are the elite units, who will depart in the utmost secrecy.

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French forces have been supporting Mali against insurgents for nearly a decade, but President Emmanuel Macron decided to pull out after relations between France and Mali deteriorated in the wake of an August 2020 military coup.

Despite the elimination of prominent jihadist leaders in the area, France’s withdrawal comes as terrorist violence once again threatens the capital Bamako and spreads well beyond the Sahel.

“Just yesterday, a delegation from the Malian army came to take stock of the base. They are preparing to take over but to tell you what tomorrow will bring for them, I don’t know,” says a French paratrooper.

A few hours later, a group of combat helicopters ensure that the last soldiers of the Barkhane Operation from Gao leave safely. After nine years of involvement and support to local troops, not one French soldier is left in Mali.

Click on the video player above to watch the report. 

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