EU to put troops on the ground in Commonwealth – Brussels cracks down on brutal terrorists

Macron criticised over push for EU army by Italian MEP

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The southern African nation, a member of the Commonwealth, called for help in tackling a growing Islamist insurgency. It has been grappling with a rebellion in its northernmost province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, with violence in the region significantly growing in the past year. The conflict has claimed some 3,000 lives and displaced around 800,000 people.

EU foreign ministers signed off on a formal plan to send troops to the country but are yet to decide on when this will happen.

In a statement, the European Council said: “The mandate of the mission will initially last two years.

“During this period, its strategic objective will be to support the capacity building of the units of the Mozambican armed forces that will be part of a future Quick Reaction Force.

“In particular, the mission will provide military training including operational preparation, specialised training on counter-terrorism, and training and education on the protection of civilians and compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

The EU added: “The aim of the mission is to train and support the Mozambican armed forces in protecting the civilian population and restoring safety and security in the Cabo Delgado province.”

Portugal has already dispatched some 60 soldiers to its former colony to run a four-month training programme.

Mozambique’s security services will be tight to counterinsurgency, share intelligence and use drones to track militants.

EU foreign policy boss Josep Borrell has said that up to 300 of the bloc’s personnel could be deployed in the country by the end of the year.

Lisbon is preparing to offer up to 50 percent of the manpower and will also provide the commander on the ground.

Violence in Mozambique has driven more than 700,000 people from their homes in Cabo Delgado.

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A senior EU source has told the AFP news agency that France, Italy and Spain will also send troops to Mozambique.

The EU has several other missions in Africa, including in Mali, Central African Republic and Somalia.

The operation in Mali – aimed at fighting jihadists – has continued to operate despite a military coup in May.

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Approval of the latest EU mission comes as regional powers are also looking to bolster their support for Mozambique.

Last month, the 16 southern African nations in the SADC bloc approved the deployment of troops after Mozambique signalled it was ready to welcome foreign boots on the ground in its battle against jihadists.

Earlier this year British special forces were reportedly put on standby to rescue British civilians caught up in the conflicts in Mozambique.

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