Macron meets West African leaders over anti-jihadist war in the Sahel

French President Emmanuel Macron puts on a protective mask upon arrival at Nouakchott Oumtounsy International Airport, in Nouakchott, Mauritania June 30, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday met with leaders from West Africa to discuss the fight against jihadists in the Sahel region.

The leaders met in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, to review a campaign that they rebooted in January after a string of reversals.

President Macron said the said the summit sought to “consolidate the gains” achieved in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region.

The French leader said the allies have notched up “real successes over the past six months, neutralising feared leaders.” He praised the “upscaling of intervention” by Sahel armies.

The meeting was the first by the Sahel allied since the outbreak of COVID-19, which grounded major global events.

France added 500 troops to its Sahel mission after a summit in Pau, where the leaders reiterated the importance of the mission.

Earlier this month, French forces in northern Mali, helped by a US drone, killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The Sahel region has been dogged by jihadist conflict for years, as various armed groupd seek to assert their power in different parts of the West African region.

Macron stressed the need “to do more in terms of the return of the state,” particularly “in Mali, in Burkina, in a context that we know is very complex.”

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