France on Sunday pledged support to a new African anti-terrorism force in the Sahel region, announcing a contribution of 9 million dollars (8 million Euros) toward its creation by the end of the year.
“Our enemies are cowards, but they have determination. They want to destroy us,” President Emmanuel Macron told leaders from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad – the so-called G5-Sahel countries – in the Malian capital Bamako.
The new regional anti-terror force is set to include as many as 5,000 soldiers, with one battalion from each of the G5 countries.
Macron said France would contribute more than 8 million Euros in military support this year.
He mentioned a contribution of 70 vehicles, without saying whether that was included in the sum.
The president also announced 200 million Euros in French development aid to the Sahel region over the next five years.
The European Union has also pledged 50 million Euros toward the new force.
France is seeking additional financing from partners including Germany and the U.S.
The new force has been approved by the UN Security Council.
“ It will operate alongside the Barkhane, a 4,000-strong French anti-terrorism force in the region and the MINUSMA, a UN mission in Mali.
“The common force of the G5-Sahel does not replace the Barkhane or the MINUSMA. It comes to support other forces,’’ Macron said.
The fight against terrorism is expected to focus on the border area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where attacks against military barracks have occurred recently.
A French military intervention in January 2013 turned back a jihadist and separatist insurgency in Mali’s north, but various Islamist groups still stage attacks.
The summit was expected to revive a peace process launched in 2015, which is progressing slower than expected, according to diplomatic sources.