French soldiers left their bases in Niger on Tuesday in a first ground convoy under local escort, "heading for Chad", said the military regime in power in Niamey since the end of July.
"Troops based in Ouallam (west) left their base today. These are operations for the departure of the first land convoy bound for Chad under escort from our Defense and Security Forces", said the Niamey regime, in a statement read out Tuesday evening on national television.
In addition to this departure by land, "three special flights" were registered at Niamey airport, two for the departure of "97 elements of the special forces" and one "dedicated to logistics".
The regime, which had assured us that it wanted this withdrawal to take place "in complete safety", specifies that the disengagement will continue in accordance with "the timetable agreed by both parties".
The withdrawal of the French troops was quickly demanded by Niger's generals after they came to power, and French President Emmanuel Macron announced their departure at the end of September.
Some 1,400 French soldiers and airmen were deployed in the country to fight jihadists alongside the Nigeriens, including around 1,000 in Niamey and 400 at two forward bases in the west, at Ouallam and Tabarey-Barey, in the heart of the so-called "three borders" zone with Mali and Burkina Faso.