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French President Emmanuel Macron has announced an overhaul of France’s military operations in the Sahel, saying the Barkhane force will no longer exist in its current form. Macron said the overhaul would entail the closure of some French army bases.

He said the fight against  militants in the region would be carried out instead by special forces, including a significant French component of several hundred soldiers, as well as forces from other countries in Europe, Africa and elsewhere.

The Sahel is seen by many western politicians and experts as a major risk area because of the growing strength of militant groups there, as well as its role as a crossroads for arms and human trafficking. Macron also faces pressure at home to end a deployment that began in January 2013, while in the Sahel region itself the presence of French forces is opposed by some politicians and locals who see it as a colonial throwback.