The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Saturday inaugurated the headquarters for a planned five-nation force to combat jihadists in the Sahel region, officials who attended the ceremony told AFP.
The Headquarters is located in Sevare, Central Mali, about 10 kilometres east of Mopti, a region that has been under attacks by a wave of terror attacks in recent months.
The formation is mae up of 5,000strong force, comprising troops from Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
The decision was taken in Bamako, Malian capital on July 2.
It has an annual budget of about $496 million (423 million euros) a year, although so far only about $127 million (108 million euros) has been pledged. The participating countries rank among the poorest nations in the world.
AFP reports that the first battalion might be operational this month, and a cross-border operation between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso will happen.
Meanwhile, France has about 4,000 troops serving in Sahel region with a counter-terror mandate, and also a major supporter of the initiative.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been pitching for support from other European nations, especially Germany.