The French military has transferred control of a second military base in northeastern Mali to the Malian army. This is part of a long-planned move to reorganize and cut down the number of deployed troops in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane. French troops are expected to gradually drop from 5,100 to about 3,000. The drawdown will be balanced by the Takuba Special Operations Task Force that consists of several European countries.

Air support for the remaining troops and the Takuba operators will remain in place.

Takuba operators will take over a great role in training, advising, and accompanying Malian troops fighting Islamic jihadists in the restive Sahel region. Mali has been beset by violence, especially in the northern area of the country.


Mali to Assume Increased Responsibility of its Security

In a statement on Tuesday from the office of General Thierry Burkhard, the French army chief of staff said the Barkhane counterterrorism force has handed over the base in Tessalit after adaptation sessions.

“After that of Kidal, the hold occupied by the Barkhane force in Tessalit was transferred on November 13 to the Malian Armed Forces (FAM). The last French soldiers left the site on November 15,” the statement read. The French base at Timbuktu is also slated to be turned over to the Malian armed forces later this year.

The statement added that the transfer was “gradual, controlled and closely coordinated with FAM and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), whose contingent of several hundred soldiers is permanently deployed in Tessalit.”

The base at Kidal was handed back to Malian forces in October. At the time of that withdrawal, General Etienne du Peyroux of the French Barkhane force said that “The idea is not to create a vacuum. The idea is to leave the responsibility of these areas to the Malian state.”