'France hopes to end military operations in Central African Republic this year'
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Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today that France hopes to end its military operation in the Central African Republic this year. Speaking to French media on Sunday, Le Drian said that the aim is to bring the operation to a halt. “I hope this is done during 2016, with small units remaining on the Central African territory as was the case earlier,” he said.
He said that the number of French soldiers which currently amounts to 900 French will be cut to around 300. The number had reached 2,500 at the start of the operation, known as ‘Sangaris’, in early 2014.
He also said that the role of the UN mission in Central African Republic will be increased to ensure safety and security in the country.
Le Drian said that it was urgent to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis to allow the international community to assist militarily in a future government of national unity and preventing the Islamic State armed group to progress in the country.
10,000 men for Operation Sentinel
Le Drian also said that the number of men deployed as part of operation ‘Sentinel’ will remain at 10,000. The operation consists of deployment of French army troops to deal with terrorist threats in the country.
“This is a military operation for protection. It is indispensable. They are there and they will remain as long as it takes,” Le Drian said.