France, European allies urge Mali junta to let Danish counter-terrorism forces stay

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France and 14 other countries urged Mali late on Wednesday to allow Danish forces to remain in the African country, saying their presence was critical in the fight against terrorism in the region.

Mali’s government said on Monday it had asked Denmark to immediately withdraw troops deployed to the West African nation as part of a French-led counter-terrorism task force.

In a statement, the 15 countries said they deeply regretted allegations by Mali’s transitional government that the Danish contingent in the Takuba Task Force was made without a proper legal basis.

“They act in full accordance with international and national laws in their support to the Malian armed forces and in their long-standing fight against armed terrorist groups,” the statement read.

The Takuba Task Force was established as a partial successor to a French counter-terrorism operation in the West African Sahel region. French President Emmanuel Macron has started to reduce the operation which had over 5,000 troops.

The task force includes 14 European countries, which provide special forces, logistical and tactical support to work alongside regional troops for targeted operations against Islamist militants.