Following the French military intervention in Mali, on January 18th, 2013, through an agreement of the Council of Ministers, Spain decided to support the French efforts with three measures:
The first measure aimed at facilitating the French deployment and aerial operations to the operations area. It consisted on authorising the use of sovereign air space and the area adjacent to territorial waters by French aircrafts participating in the operation.
The second measure consisted on accelerating planning under the scope of the European Union to establish the FAM training mission called EUTM Mali.
And the final measure deployed a T-10 Hercules plane from the Air Force to operate from Dakar in support of France and the AFISMA countries.
France prompted Operation Serval in January 2013 to stop the advance of jihadis towards the south of Mali, to prevent the fall of the capital (Bamako) and to liberate the main northern cities that had become a safe haven for terrorists.
In the same month, Spain joined the mission with its decision to facilitate the overflights and temporary landing of aircrafts from EU member countries and with the deployment of the Marfil detachment in Dakar (Senegal).
Subsequently, Serval was, along with other French operations in West Africa, absorbed into Operation Barkhane, which the Spanish Armed Forces have continued to contribute to. The mission centres on the contribution of French intratheater transport through Operation Barkhane and the United Nations MINUSMA mission.
Detachment Marfil supports the EUTM-Mali´s Spanish contingent, the EU mission to train the Malian Army. The Spanish contribution are two transport airplanes T21 (AIRBUS C-295) belonging to the Spanish Air Force and 65 airmen.
Detachment 'Marfil' operates in 19 countries, covering an area of more than 5,200 km.
The Mali crisis began in January 2012, when a tuareg uprising, promoted by the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), began in the north of the country.
Due to the weakness of the Government against the uprising, a coup d’état took place, that marked the overthrow of the then president, Amadu Tumani Turé, and the beginning of a period of political turbulence.
Independence was declared in the north of Mali, while the MNLA were left defeated by three jihadist movements; Magreb Al Qaeda, Mujao and Ansar Dine.
Events accelerated on 10th January 2013, when Ansar Dine broke the truce and headed an invasion of the south. This invasion threatened the city of Mopti, whose conquest would have left the path clear to Bamako.
In July 2014, France decided to expand the scope of the operation along the fringe of the Sahel to increase the efficacy of the fight against terrorism. This led to relocation of the Bamako (Mali) headquarters to D´jamena (Chad) and a name change for the operation, which was to be called ´Barkhane´ from 1st August 2014.
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