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Pictures | Fri Aug 23, 2019 | 4:35pm BST

Inside France's anti-jihadist mission in Mali

A French soldier of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group uses a sniffer dog to check for explosives during an area control operation in the Gourma region in Ndaki, Mali. Efforts led by France to stop a region on Europe's doorstep becoming a launchpad for attacks at home are increasingly trapped in an endless cat-and-mouse game with well-armed jihadists, who know the terrain and hide easily among civilians.   

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group uses a sniffer dog to check for explosives during an area control operation in the Gourma region in Ndaki, Mali. Efforts led by France to stop a region on Europe's doorstep becoming a...more

A French soldier of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group uses a sniffer dog to check for explosives during an area control operation in the Gourma region in Ndaki, Mali. Efforts led by France to stop a region on Europe's doorstep becoming a launchpad for attacks at home are increasingly trapped in an endless cat-and-mouse game with well-armed jihadists, who know the terrain and hide easily among civilians. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier conducts a CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation) patrol during Operation Barkhane in Gossi, Mali, July 30. French forces intervened in Mali in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north but the militants have since regrouped and expanded their presence.  


REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier conducts a CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation) patrol during Operation Barkhane in Gossi, Mali, July 30. French forces intervened in Mali in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north but the militants have since...more

A French soldier conducts a CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation) patrol during Operation Barkhane in Gossi, Mali, July 30. French forces intervened in Mali in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north but the militants have since regrouped and expanded their presence. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers in a Small Protected vehicle drive in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. Some 4,500 French troops remain based in the wider Sahel, which consists mostly of former French colonies, most of them in Mali.  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers in a Small Protected vehicle drive in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. Some 4,500 French troops remain based in the wider Sahel, which consists mostly of former French colonies, most of them in...more

French soldiers in a Small Protected vehicle drive in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. Some 4,500 French troops remain based in the wider Sahel, which consists mostly of former French colonies, most of them in Mali. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group control a touareg home in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27.   
 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group control a touareg home in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group control a touareg home in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Local women and children arrive at an abandoned clinic to receive medical care from the French military in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. 
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Local women and children arrive at an abandoned clinic to receive medical care from the French military in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Local women and children arrive at an abandoned clinic to receive medical care from the French military in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A Malian Armed Forces soldier holds a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29.   REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A Malian Armed Forces soldier holds a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A Malian Armed Forces soldier holds a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group carry a punctured tyre towards an NH90 Caiman military helicopter in the Gourma region in Ndaki, Mali, July 29.  
  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group carry a punctured tyre towards an NH90 Caiman military helicopter in the Gourma region in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group carry a punctured tyre towards an NH90 Caiman military helicopter in the Gourma region in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group walks in a wadi in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28.   REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group walks in a wadi in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group walks in a wadi in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment searches a man during an area control operation in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment searches a man during an area control operation in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment searches a man during an area control operation in the Gourma region during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Local women and children are pictured before a medical aid operation during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29.  
 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Local women and children are pictured before a medical aid operation during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Local women and children are pictured before a medical aid operation during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier exercises at the Operational Desert Platform Camp during Operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali, August 1. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier exercises at the Operational Desert Platform Camp during Operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali, August 1. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier exercises at the Operational Desert Platform Camp during Operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali, August 1. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A child is pictured during a medical aid operation for the local population during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A child is pictured during a medical aid operation for the local population during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A child is pictured during a medical aid operation for the local population during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment inspect the perimeter of a touareg home in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment inspect the perimeter of a touareg home in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment inspect the perimeter of a touareg home in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French military medical unit conduct an assistance operation for the local population as part of the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French military medical unit conduct an assistance operation for the local population as part of the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French military medical unit conduct an assistance operation for the local population as part of the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Commander David, a French soldier of the Barkhane Force, talks with Almedi Ag Agissa, a vegetable grower who benefitted from a small aid project to build a communal tool shed, as he conducts a Civil-Military Cooperation patrol during Operation Barkhane in Gossi, Mali, July 30. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Commander David, a French soldier of the Barkhane Force, talks with Almedi Ag Agissa, a vegetable grower who benefitted from a small aid project to build a communal tool shed, as he conducts a Civil-Military Cooperation patrol during Operation...more

Commander David, a French soldier of the Barkhane Force, talks with Almedi Ag Agissa, a vegetable grower who benefitted from a small aid project to build a communal tool shed, as he conducts a Civil-Military Cooperation patrol during Operation Barkhane in Gossi, Mali, July 30. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28.  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Troops from the Malian Armed Forces and a French soldier conduct a joint patrol during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29.   REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Troops from the Malian Armed Forces and a French soldier conduct a joint patrol during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Troops from the Malian Armed Forces and a French soldier conduct a joint patrol during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A donkey grazes during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A donkey grazes during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A donkey grazes during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the Belleface Desert Tactical Group carry boxes of bottled water in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28.  
   REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the Belleface Desert Tactical Group carry boxes of bottled water in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the Belleface Desert Tactical Group carry boxes of bottled water in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 28. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27.  
  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A Malian Armed Forces soldier is pictured during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29.  
 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A Malian Armed Forces soldier is pictured during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A Malian Armed Forces soldier is pictured during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 29. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the 7th Alpine 'Hunter' Battalion conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27.    
 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 7th Alpine 'Hunter' Battalion conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 7th Alpine 'Hunter' Battalion conduct an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group set up camp for the night in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27.  
  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group set up camp for the night in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French soldiers of the 'Belleface' Desert Tactical Group set up camp for the night in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier leaves with his backpack at the Operational Desert Platform Camp during the Operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali, August 1. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier leaves with his backpack at the Operational Desert Platform Camp during the Operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali, August 1. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier leaves with his backpack at the Operational Desert Platform Camp during the Operation Barkhane in Gao, Mali, August 1. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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A French soldier of the Belleface Desert Tactical Group conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27.  
   REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the Belleface Desert Tactical Group conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A French soldier of the Belleface Desert Tactical Group conducts an area control operation in the Gourma region during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, July 27. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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