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MILITARY

Soldiers killed ‘by illegal miners’ in French Guiana

Two soldiers were killed and two paramilitary gendarmes wounded Wednesday in an ambush blamed on illegal gold miners in French Guiana, officials in the overseas region said.

The men were killed during an operation against illegal gold miners in the western Dorlin region of French Guiana, which is located along the northeast coast of South America.

A team of around a dozen gendarmes and at least 18 soldiers were dropped into the area after a helicopter providing security for a legal mining operation in the remote region came under fire early Wednesday.

“They fell into an ambush,” said the local prefecture.

The lives of the two gendarmes were not thought to be in danger, said Colonel Didier Laumont, commander of the local gendarmerie.

France’s minister for the overseas territories Victorin Lurel was due to fly in Thursday to attend the dead soldiers’ funerals and visit the wounded, his ministry said.

The Dorlin region has for years been the site of illegal gold mining, which has occasionally led to deadly violence.

In January, at least five people were killed during a shootout between rival gangs, just hours ahead of a visit by then president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The government has been trying to stamp out the illegal industry, which causes serious ecological damage including mercury-polluted waters.

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MILITARY

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, government officials said Thursday after President Donald Trump surprised Washington's allies by ordering US troops home.

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves
Photo: AFP
“For now of course we remain in Syria,” France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding “the fight against terrorism is not over.”
   
“It's true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she said.
   
France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.
 
On Wednesday Trump said in a Twitter video that “We've won against ISIS,” another acronym for the Islamic State group, and that it was time to bring the roughly 2,000 US soldiers fighting the jihadists home.
   
It was a stunning reversal of a US policy which had vowed its support for Kurdish allies who have been key fighters against IS forces in Syria.
 
Its allies have warned that despite losing most of the territory it once controlled during the bloody Syrian civil war, the IS threat has not been totally eradicated.
   
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter Thursday that the group “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.”
 
“We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organisation,” she said.
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