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Macron: Operation Barkhane prevented the establishment of a caliphate in the Sahel region

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the French military operation "Barkhane" to combat militants in the Sahel region, in which more than 5,000 soldiers are participating, will end in the first quarter of 2022, Russia Today reported.

In his annual address to the military on the occasion of the country's National Day, Macron said that "in the first quarter of 2022 we will put an end to Operation Barkhane," stressing at the same time that ending this operation, which has been going on since 2014, does not mean that his country will abandon its role in this region.

The French president praised the role played by his forces in defeating "extremists in the Sahel."

"It is the French army and Operation Barkhane that have prevented in recent years the establishment of a caliphate in the Sahel," he said.

On Friday, Macron announced, after a summit with the leaders of the five Sahel nations, that his country would begin by the end of the year to withdraw its forces deployed in the far north of Mali, and focus its efforts in the south, where extremist groups continue to "spread the threat."