Estonia to send 50 troops to reinforce French-led Mali mission
Tallinn, March 22, 2018 (AFP) - Estonia's government on Thursday agreed to send 50 troops from the Baltic state to Mali as part of France's Operation Barkhane anti-jihadist mission.
'By participating in an operation with the aim of creating stability on the southern edge of NATO and the EU, we support our strong European ally,' Estonian Defence Minister Juri Luik said in a government statement.
The country's parliament still has to green-light the year-long mission, in which an Estonian infantry unit on armoured personnel carriers would be tasked with ensuring the security of the Gao military base and its surroundings.
Around 4,000 French troops are deployed under Operation Barkhane alongside the United Nations 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.
France launched an intervention to chase out jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda who had overtaken key northern cities in Mali in 2013.
That mission evolved into the current Barkhane deployment launched in 2014 with an expanded mandate for counter-terror operations across the Sahel.
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