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France hands over northern Mali base

A French A400M on Tessalit's unpaved airstrip during the evacuation of the French base. (Ministère des Armées)

French forces in Mali handed over their base in Tessalit in the far north of the country to the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) on 13 November, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced on 22 November.

The ministry said two A400M transport aircraft carried out 12 flights to the base from Gao between 13–15 November to transport 190 tonnes of cargo, including 18 vehicles. Two Tigre attack helicopters were deployed to protect the area, while an unmanned aircraft and Mirage 2000 multirole fighters flew overwatch sorties.

The withdrawal from Tessalit was part of France's plan to significantly reduce the size of the force it has deployed in the Sahel region, which the Ministry of Armed Forces says is currently around 5,100 personnel. The French base in Kidal has already been evacuated and the base in Timbuktu will be evacuated before the end of the year.

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