March 17, 2018 / 2:26 AM / 6 months ago

Canada to send helicopters, troops to Mali: government source

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will send helicopters and support troops, including medical staff, to join a United Nations peace-keeping mission in Mali later this year, a senior Canadian government source said late on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will announce on Monday that Canada plans to send troops and aircraft to Mali for up to 12 months, said the official, who declined to provide further details.

The plan was earlier reported by Canadian broadcaster CBC.

Trudeau promised in 2016 to send up to 600 troops to U.N. peace-keeping operations in Mali, where soldiers under the U.N. are fighting Islamist militants. More than 80 people deployed through the U.N. have been killed in Mali since 2013, making it the world’s deadliest peace-keeping operation.

The Canadian government in November said it would hold off on announcing deployment of troops to Mali as it reviewed strategy for participating in U.N. peace-keeping missions.

It said it would offer transport aircraft and helicopters in a series of “smart pledge” initiatives, splitting soldiers among various missions with no more than 200 going to any spot and helping to train peace keepers.

Government insiders told Reuters in November that enthusiasm for the Mali mission faded as the extent of likely casualties and the complex nature of the conflict became clear.

Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Leslie Adler

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