The French army on Wednesday said it was ready to leave Mali if the West African government requested so. This is according to a statement from the French-led Operation Barkhane, which is supporting the fight against Islamist militants in that country .
The statement comes on the heels of protests in Kidal earlier this week against the presence of French forces.
‘‘The Barkhane force is here today at the request of Malians. We are working with Nigerians and in a different way with Mauritania, Chad and Burkina’‘ said Patrick Brethous, Commandant of Operation Barkhane.
Brethous rejected accusations of human rights violations said to have be carried out by the French troops.
“We do not make arrests because we are not a legal force, we are a military force and in any case, we work with the population. We have intelligence that allows us to know that there is a terrorist in particular place and we take them.”
For four years jihadist groups have targeted and controlled some areas of northern Mali.
The Barkhane operation initiated by France is part of a larger fight against terrorist groups operating in the Sahel region.