Sylvie Corbet, ASSOCIATED PRESS
PARIS (AP) — France has reoriented its military efforts in West Africa to focus more on the fight against Boko Haram, especially by providing intelligence to the African countries that are at war against the extremist movement.
France supports the offensive led by Chad in cooperation with Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria — Boko Haram’s base.
About 30 French troops are deployed in Niger since last month near the Nigerian border, and French jets frequently fly over the area to provide intelligence, according to two French top diplomatic officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
The country also provides fuel and food supplies to Chadian troops, said one of the officials.
France has a big air base with 600 troops in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, close to Cameroon’s border and northern Nigeria.
It has deployed 3,000 troops in five countries of the Sahel in an operation aiming at fighting Islamic extremists in the region.
The operation to fight Boko Haram is “flexible,” which means that some troops can be redeployed from one country to another, one of the officials said without giving more details.
France’s defense minister said this week that the country would “slightly” increase its number of troops in the Sahel region by the end of the year, but does not intend to take active part in the fighting against Boko Haram.
France has previously helped oust al-Qaida-linked militants from the main cities in northern Mali, France’s former colony.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.