The French Barkhane force is building a new base in Gossi, a crossroad in central Mali and former UN mission base.
It is a strategic base that will allow French soldiers to gain a foothold in the arid Gourma area.
‘’ Gossi being the economic hub of the region, terrorist armed groups, like everyone else need to get supplies, and so they try to take advantage of everything Gossi has to offer to get supplies, so it is our priority here to stop them ‘’, said Barkhane force soldier, Lieutenant Gauthier.
For the French military command in Mali, the choice of the Gourma region is strategic.
General Frederic Blachon is the Barkhane Force Commander.
“ Liptako is on the Malo-Nigerian border, and Gourma is on the Malo-Burkinabe border and these border areas are obviously the most sought-after places by terrorists to carry out their actions. There is no better way to move from one to the other and find refuge than in a border area. So the Gourma region for us presents all the conditions necessary to be effective ‘’, he said.
But, the establishment of this new base does not mean that the jihadists have abandoned other strategic locations.
“ A strength is about making choices. We can’t, if you want, apply the same pressure everywhere, on the opponent. Currently, more present in Liptako and tomorrow in Gourma, we are facing the most aggressive groups. That does not mean that we are not in the North ‘’, Blachon added.
The French Barkhane force, which has been present in Mali since July 2014, increased from 3,000 troops to 4,500 in 2018. 15 of them have been killed since operations began.