Czech soldiers may join anti-terrorist operation in Africa |

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Czech soldiers may join anti-terrorist operation in Africa

Czech soldiers may join anti-terrorist operation in Africa

Up to 60 Czech soldiers may serve in the Barkhane anti-terrorist operation in Mali, Niger and Chad, launched on August 1, 2014, based on the Defence Ministry's proposal that the government and parliament must yet approve.

The Czech Republic along with other European countries has received an offer from France, heading the mission, of a military participation in it, according to a report released to CTK. Daily Pravo reported today about Czech soldiers' possible deployment in the operation.

France is cooperating with the main countries of the Sahel and Sahara belt, such as Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, in the operation.

Militant Islamist groups are operating in the Sahel, finding shelter in Mali and other countries of the region.

The Barkhane Operation will form the Takuba task group of European countries. Its participants will provide consultancy and assistance to the Malian units and together with them, fulfil combat tasks during special operations against terrorist groups in northeastern Mali along the border with Niger.

"Everything is and will still be subject to negotiations. The material has not yet been discussed with the government and parliament. Generally speaking, the aim of the possible deployment of further Czech soldiers in the Sahel would be to secure stronger support for the Malian armed forces in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration," Jan Pejsek, the head of the Defence Ministry communication section, told.

Within the operation, Czech soldiers should serve in the region as of the day of the approval by parliament until the end of 2022.

The Defence Ministry has put the costs at 598 million crowns at least that should be covered from the ministry's budget.

At present, the Czech Republic has some 120 soldiers deployed in Mali. This year, the Czech military will assume the command of the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) for six months. The main task of the mission is to help build up and train the Malian army fighting the Islamist radicals.

Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) previously said that more than 600 soldiers from over 20 countries were serving in the mission.

Along with the EU mission, the UN MINUSMA mission is underway in Mali to provide security and create conditions for further humanitarian and political assistance to the Malian government. Five Czech soldiers serve in this mission.

However, unlike Barkhane, the UN missions do not lead active operations in the fight against terrorist groups, the report says.

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