U.N. Security Council backs West Africa force to fight Sahel militants

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Chadian soldiers march during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 3, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday unanimously backed a West African force to combat militant groups as well as arms, drug and human trafficking in the Sahel region after diplomats said France softened the resolution’s language to secure the support of the United States.

The vast, arid region has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups – some linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State – that European countries, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked.

Last year, the nations of the Sahel – Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – proposed establishing specially-trained units of around 100 soldiers each, which would be deployed in areas where jihadist…

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