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Macron Announces Sahel Troop Drawdown, Calls for New Force

President Emmanuel Macron announced a major drawdown of France’s military presence in the Sahel where forces have been battling jihadist insurgents for nearly a decade.

At a news conference, Macron said the existing Barkhane operation would end, with France’s presence becoming part of the so-called Takuba international task force in which “hundreds” of French soldiers would form the “backbone”.

France currently has 5,100 troops in the arid and volatile Sahel region, which stretches across Africa under the Sahara desert and spans half a dozen countries.

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The US Navy has begun constructing an updated version of its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG) 51, the first vessel in its class built in the Flight III configuration.

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Ivory Coast and France inaugurated a counter-terrorism academy designed to ramp up the Sahel region’s ability to counter a widespread jihadist threat.

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President Erdogan said on Sunday Turkey would be the “only reliable” country left to stabilize Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops, indicating Washington could rely on its NATO ally.

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Iran’s navy took delivery of two new warships in a ceremony broadcast by state television, several days after announcing it dispatched a squadron into the Atlantic Ocean.

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