UK Considers Backing French Counterterrorism Force in Sahel

The UK prepares to support French counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region, through providing surveillance aircraft and helicopters, British government sources told different media outlets.

Currently about 4,500 French troops are engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the Sahel where France has spearheaded efforts to create a joint-military force bringing together soldiers from five Sahel countries (Senegal, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania).

“We are looking at rotary support or Istar [Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance],” a Whitehall source told the Times. “The effort is meant to counter terrorism, to counter organized crime and to help re-establish state authority.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to announce the agreement at a Franco-British summit next week in London.

Hundreds of millions have been pledged to assist the French-led Barkhane operations in the Sahel countries. Major contributions so far have come from Saudi Arabia, the EU, the G5 members, the US, and the United Arab Emirates.

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