The European Union formally established a military mission for Mozambique on Monday to help train its armed forces battling IS-linked jihadists in the northern Cabo Delgado Province.

A deadly insurgency by militants linked to the Islamic State group has ravaged the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since late 2017, claiming some 3,000 lives and displacing 800,000 people.

Former colonial power Portugal is already providing training for Mozambican troops.

Lisbon’s military instructors on the ground are expected to make up some half of the new EU mission, which will be headed by a Portuguese commander.

“The aim of the mission is to train and support the Mozambican armed forces in protecting the civilian population and restoring safety and security in the Cabo Delgado province,” an EU statement said, without giving details on the overall size of the deployment.

“The mandate of the mission will initially last two years. During this period, its strategic objective will be to support the capacity building of the units of the Mozambican armed forces that will be part of a future Quick Reaction Force.”

A senior European diplomat told AFP in June that other countries including France, Italy, and Spain are also expected to provide personnel for the mission.

The approval of the EU training mission comes as regional powers are also looking to bolster their support for Mozambique’s fight to crush the insurgency.

Last month the 16 southern African countries in the SADC bloc approved the deployment of forces as Mozambique’s government said it was open to foreign boots on the ground to battle the jihadists.

Rwanda announced on Friday it will deploy a joint contingent of 1,000 troops made out of members of the Rwanda Defence Force and National Police personnel to the war-torn province of Cabo Delgado.

The EU has several other training missions in Africa, including in Mali, Central African Republic, and Somalia.

The operation in Mali – aimed at boosting the fight against jihadists – has continued to operate despite concerns after the latest in a strike of military coups hit the country in May.

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