January 31, 2019 / 8:34 PM / 7 months ago

Romania to replace Canada in Mali peacekeeping mission: Ottawa

A Canada flag patch and U.N. patch are seen on a member of Canadian Forces before departing for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Trenton, Ontario, Canada, July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Romania will supply transport helicopters to a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the troubled African nation of Mali once Canada has pulled out as scheduled this year, the Canadian government said on Thursday.

Canada currently has six helicopters and 250 support troops based near the northern Mali city of Gao. They are due to leave on July 31.

“Canada welcomes the commitment of Romania, a credible and capable troop-contributing ally, to replace our Canadian air task force,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

The United Nations on Thursday said 177 people deployed in Mali have been killed since 2013, making it the world’s deadliest peacekeeping operation.

An al Qaeda-linked Islamist group in Mali has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 U.N. peacekeepers from Chad in the north of the country on Jan. 20. [nL8N1ZK0I7]

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by James Dalgleish

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