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France Struggles To Assist Boko Haram Fight From Afar - Yahoo News

. Paris (AFP) - France has found itself the best positioned Western nation to assist in the regional fight against Boko Haram -- but also the most vulnerable to being sucked into an open-ended war, experts say. Despite the presence of 3,000 troops in the region under France's Barkhane operation battling jihadist groups around the Sahel, Paris insists it will limit itself to "indirect support" of the widening African effort to combat Boko Haram. But as cross-border attacks and atrocities by the Nigerian extremist group force a growing number of countries to respond, France may find itself unable to merely provide assistance at a safe distance. A key factor in that dilemma will be whether the 8,700 troops that the governments of Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Benin have committed to fighting Boko Haram in and around the group's northern Nigerian stronghold will suffice to drive back its six-year insurgency that has left over 13,000 people dead. Thus far, that challenge has been answered by the extremists increasing the frequency, violence and audacity of their strikes. Should that collective African effort fail, Paris would be hard-pressed to continue limiting its involvement to logistical and intelligence support, air surveillance, and military browse coordination -- especially if Boko Haram began occupying wider territory outside Nigeria. View gallery Chadian troops patrol read more on January 21, 2015, at the border between Nigeria and Cameroon (AFP Photo/Ali "Our role is to aid neighbouring countries facing a mortal threat," said a French diplomatic source, who nevertheless acknowledges it would be difficult to refuse requests for air support from Niger were Boko Haram to escalate attacks inside its border with Nigeria. - 'Mortal threat' - A spate of Boko Haram strikes on the southern Niger town of Diffa this week has already led France to dispatch a group of military advisers to the panicked zone, the source said.
More: http://news.yahoo.com/france-struggles-assist-boko-haram-fight-afar-032105369.html

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