France predicts long war against Islamist militants in Africa

France fighting Isis in the Sahel

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has warned troops stationed in Africa’s Sahel region that they should “prepare for a long war” against jihadists.

Cazeneuve on his first overseas visit as Prime Minister also promised Chad, where French troops have been stationed since 2014 under Operation Barkhane, his nation’s financial support.

The Barkhane forces’ mission targeting jihadist groups that are active in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert was launched after French military interventions in Mali and Chad.

“We must prepare for a long war in an environment that has undergone dramatic shifts,” Cazeneuve said.

The French military is currently battling jihadists in two regions — in the Middle East against the Islamic State group, and in the Sahel where it has deployed 4,000 soldiers as part of the Barkhane force.

Cazeneuve hailed troops fighting on fronts “thousands of kilometres away from their homes”.

“You risk your lives to save others’,” he said.

Four French troops have been killed in Mali this year.

Operation Barkhane covers five nations: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.


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