Europe to send 400 special forces to Mali
European armies are expected to send up to 400 special forces troops to Mali to join an African-led mission against Islamists allied to al-Qaeda occupying the country’s desert north, diplomats said.
West African leaders met on Sunday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to put the final touches to a military plan drawn up with input from the EU and the United Nations.
The mission, expected to launch early next year, will be made up of as many as 3,300 troops, most of them from Mali but with reinforcements from Niger, Burkina Faso and other African nations.
“We expect that there will be support from the EU in the order of 200 to 400 military support troops to help train the African Union force,” one European diplomat with knowledge of the proceedings said.
The soldiers would mostly be tasked with training local forces and would not take part in fighting, the diplomat added.
Ansar Dine, an Islamist militia with ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, seized territory the size of France in Mali’s north after a military coup in March that ousted the government in the capital, Bamako.