January 16, 2013 / 12:10 PM / 7 years ago

Timeline - Mali: the latest French military foray in Africa

(Reuters) - Here is a look at some major military interventions in Africa by France in the last 20 years - mostly in former French colonies.

France’s military mounted a new operation this month to prevent Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda expanding their power base in Mali.

1991 - DJIBOUTI/ETHIOPIA - French troops based in Djibouti help check the Afar rebellion and disarm Ethiopian soldiers who cross the border after the overthrow of Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam.

1994 - RWANDA - French and Belgian soldiers evacuate Europeans from Rwanda as Hutu hardliners massacre hundreds of thousands, mainly Tutsis. Later in the year 2,500 French troops, backed by contingents from African countries, launch “Operation Turquoise”, described as a humanitarian effort, from Zaire into western Rwanda.

1995 - COMOROS - French forces crush a coup attempt led by French mercenary Bob Denard against President Said Mohamed Djohar. In 1989, 200 French soldiers had forced Denard to leave the Comoros and restored order after president Ahmed Abdallah’s assassination by his guard.

1996/97 - CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - French troops intervene to end army pay mutiny against President Ange-Felix Patasse.

1997 - CONGO REPUBLIC - Some 1,200 French troops rescue French and African nationals during fighting between Congolese army and supporters of military leader Denis Sassou Nguesso.

2002 - IVORY COAST - French forces mount “Operation Licorne” to help westerners trapped by a military uprising which effectively cut Ivory Coast in two. In 2004 they destroyed Ivory Coast’s small air force after government forces bombed a French base.

2008 - CHAD - A French intervention bolsters the regime of Chadian president Idriss Deby and evacuates foreigners during attacks by rebels who crossed from neighboring Sudan.

2011 - LIBYA - French planes are the first to bomb Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in March after the United Nations voted to allow intervention in Libya to protect civilians caught up in a rebellion against Gaddafi. NATO took command of the mission on March 31 which allowed Libyan rebels to defeat government forces and seize power.

2011 - IVORY COAST - French forces tip the balance alongside U.N. forces in the civil war which erupted after the refusal of Laurent Gbagbo to step down and accept the election victory of Alassane Ouattara as president. Gbagbo is ousted and Ouattara installed.

2013 - MALI/SOMALIA - French aircraft pound Islamist rebels in Mali in January after they tried to advance towards the capital, Bamako. France had warned that the control of northern Mali by the rebels posed a security threat to Europe. President Francois Hollande said on January 15, French forces will remain in Mali until stability returns. At the same time, France mounted an unsuccessful commando raid to try to rescue a French hostage held by al Shabaab militants in Somalia, also allied to al Qaeda.

Sources: Reuters/Council on Foreign Relations (Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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