Irish troops touchdown in African war zone Mali for military training mission


A group of eight Irish and British soldiers will begin work on the ground in African war zone Mali this week, as part of a military training mission.

The EU announced plans for the training mission to Mali in December, which will aim to bolster the country's defence forces and also help to protect civilians and human rights.

This is the first joint operation between Irish and British soldiers as part of an EU training mission.

Minister for Defence Alan Shatter said the partnership was part of the “normalisation” of relations between Ireland and Britain.

Minister Shatter confirmed the deployment last month after a two-day EU defence ministers’ meeting with Andrew Murrison, Britain’s minister for international security strategy.

“This will be the first occasion there has been a formal joint deployment under the UN mandate of mission involving our defence forces and the UK,” he said.

“It is yet another indicator of the total normalisation of relationships between all of us on this island, the island of Ireland, and between this State and the United Kingdom,” Shatter said.

Since the conflict began in January 2012 an estimated 375,000 people have been displaced due to internal conflict in the Western African country.

Irish military sources told the Irish Daily Star that it will be a high risk mission.

“The threat will be high,” the source told the newspaper.

“The training camps in Koulikoro where the Irish will be based will be a target for the rebels.”