France cannot 'let guard down' yet, says new defense minister

May 20, 2017 20:51
1 minute read.
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The new French Minister of Armed Forces Sylvie Goulard went on patrol with soldiers from the country's anti-terrorist security operation, "Operation Sentinelle", on Saturday, after returning from a trip to Mali where she and President Emmanuel Macron visited France's Barkhane force deployed in 2013 to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants.

Back home, some 3,500 Sentinelle soldiers patrol the streets of Paris in groups and have become a common sight in the capital since a state of emergency was declared in November 2015 following bomb and shooting attacks by Islamist militants. The troops mainly monitor for suspicious behavior, abandoned packages and oddly parked vehicles.In December 2016, the French lower house of parliament voted to extend the country's state of emergency until July 15, 2017, as France remains on high alert against the threat of terror attacks.

More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant group Islamic State, whose strongholds in Syria and Iraq are being bombed by an international coalition including France.

Operation Sentinelle is the government's stepped-up security response to the January 2015 Islamist attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo which killed 12 people. The operation was reinforced after the November 2015 attacks in Paris.

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