France’s president Emmanuel Macron is highlighting his determination to crush extremism with a scheduled visit to French-led military forces fighting jihadist groups in West Africa. During Friday’s trip to Mali, the new president’s first foray outside Europe since taking power, Mr Macron will be briefed on the inner workings of Operation Barkhane.
It is France’s largest overseas military mission, with more than 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. He was expected to visit a French base in the eastern city of Gao.
Mr Macron repeatedly pledged ahead of his May 7 election that fighting terror would be his priority, after multiple attacks in France since 2015 that killed more than 230 people.
Most of the West African extremist groups France is fighting trace their origins to al Qaida’s North Africa branch.