France wants victories for ‘Sahel coalition’ against Islamist militants by mid-2018

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A file photo taken on February 17, 2013 shows locals welcoming French soldiers in Bourem, northen Mali.

France and Mali said the G5 Sahel military force must secure its first victories in tackling Islamist militants by the middle of 2018 to prove its worth and ensure more concrete support from the UN.

The G5 Sahel force is composed of the armies of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

It was launched in October amid growing unrest in the region, whose porous borders are regularly crossed by jihadists, including affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State.

However, France which has some 4,000 troops in the region, has bemoaned that the militants have scored military and symbolic victories in West Africa while the G5 force has struggled to win financing and become operational.

To give the force a boost, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the leaders of the five…

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