Paris (The Times Groupe)- France has begun withdrawing its troops from Mali with the handover of Menaka to the Malian forces, the general staff of defense announced on Monday.
“The transfer was conducted in an orderly, safe and transparent manner. Focus on this important element of Barkhane operation which provided security in the Three Borders and Southern Liptako region,” the general staff said on Twitter.
It is part of a framework set by President Emmanuel Macron in February to reorganize the Barkhane Force outside of Mali, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry.
Operation Barkhane, launched in 2014 in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania, has deployed approximately 4,600 French soldiers.
French forces have now relocated military logistics from Menaka to Niamey in Niger, 1,340 kilometers away, where they will continue anti-terrorism operations in the Sahel region.
According to the French army, several million euros have been invested in development projects for infrastructure, education, youth and health of the local population that supported the Barkhane Force.
French troops handed over a military base at Gossi in April, and the Malian army accused France of covering a “mass grave” on the property. France denied the allegations.
Following hostile relations with France, Mali’s military government in May revoked the defense cooperation treaty governing the status of French forces (SOFA) and ordered the French troops as well as European forces under Takuba to leave.