The UK Government has announced that it will continue to support the French-led counter-terrorism operation in Mali for an additional six months.

Since last year, three British Royal Air Force (RAF) Chinook helicopters have been supporting the French mission in Mali to counter insurgency.

In addition to the Chinooks, around 100 service personnel are currently stationed in the country in support of the mission.

Tasks performed by the heavy-lift helicopters include transporting French personnel to the forward operation bases along with supplies and equipment.

The RAF Chinooks enable French ground forces to operate more effectively across the Sahel, including in Niger and Burkina Faso.

The mission is tackling the threat posed by militants linked to Al-Qa’ida and Islamic State.

UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “Increasing instability across the Sahel is causing pain and suffering to local communities and posing a real threat to European security.

“It is right that we extend our commitment to the counter-terror operation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. By providing essential support to our French partners, our armed forces are helping to build stability and deny terrorists a haven from which to plan attacks.”

The Mali Government approached France for military assistance to combat militancy.

Codenamed Operation Barkhane, the ongoing anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region covers Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The UK’s activities in the region include setting up new embassies, expanding its development programme and supporting security interventions to enhance stability and prosperity.

These measures are also intended to support international efforts to tackle the problem of illegal migration through and from the Sahel.