EDF special forces Mali activity halted pending French decision

Estonian Special Operations Forces platoon in Mali
Estonian Special Operations Forces platoon in Mali Source: Estonian Defense Forces

Estonian special operations forces in the West African nation of Mali have been temporarily suspended following a French decision to do the same, following a military coup in that country.

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) decision only concerns special forces, while the EDF's regular infantry platoon and other personnel based in the country remain operational, BNS reports.

The EDF provides troops in support of the French-led counter-terrorism and counter-human trafficking Operation Barkhane, which covers several countries in the Sahel region. The EDF personnel are based in the city of Gao and regularly engage in patrols there.

An EDF officer told BNS that: "The EDF infantry platoon within Operation Barkhane continues performing its daily tasks."

"The Estonian special operations personnel participating in Task Force Takuba, together with the French special operations forces, have temporarily suspended joint operational activities with the Malian defense forces," he added.

France temporarily suspended its defense cooperation and joint military operations with Mali recently, a decision taken in consultation with its close allies, including Estonia, BNS reports.

Cooperation is suspended until clarity can be brought on whether Mali is under de facto civilian rule, and whether moves towards holding democratic elections remain in place.

Ethnic Tuareg fighters along with self-proclaimed jihadists initiated an insurgency war in the north of Mali in 2012, with conflict spreading further inside the country and into two neighboring states, Niger and Burkina Faso.

France announced Thursday it was suspending operations following a recent coup, the second in the country in nine months.

Led by Assimi Goita, military personnel involved in the coup arrested Malian transitional president, Bah Ndaw, and prime minister Moctar Ouane, prompting diplomatic outcry and a U.S. decision to suspend security assistance for Malian security force.

Calls have been made for the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to suspend Mali's membership.

France says that requirements and red lines had been set in clarifying the framework for the political transition in Mali, ahead of the recent coup and following the one which took place last August.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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