British Army troops based in Mali have returned from a deep reconnaissance mission, deterring hostile groups and assessing the area of operations.
Operation SEKA saw soldiers from the Light Dragoons and 2 Royal Anglian deployed successfully to carry out security operations for a month, as part of the UK's commitment to the UN's operation in Mali.
The Long Range Recce Group (Mali) (LRRG (M)) covered more than 1,500km and visited more than 60 villages, engaging with and protecting the local population, the Army said.
Troops also helped to secure the primary supply route from Gao, in the east of the country where they are based, further south to Ansongo, all while working with UN allies to form a persistent presence and deter hostile groups.
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, Commanding Officer, Light Dragoons, said the deployment had caused a "significant reduction in violence against the locals" in the region.
He also called it the "first opportunity to make a real contribution" to the UN's MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali) peacekeeping mission.
The Light Dragoons showed their off-road ability with the Jackal 2 and Coyote vehicles to tackle difficult terrain in the area which had not previously been reached by security forces.
Meanwhile, 2 Company Royal Anglian used the Foxhound protected patrol vehicle along the vital supply route.
Outside of Gao, UK forces are also present in Mali's capital, Bamako, while a Chinook force is supporting French forces as part of Operation BARKHANE.
Extremists have extended their reach well into the centre of Mali, where their presence has inflamed tensions between ethnic communities.
Democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was forced to step down last August after mutinous soldiers circled his house and fired into the air.
Under international pressure, the junta that had seized power appointed a civilian-led government to lead the country through an 18-month transition to new elections.
Cover image: Long Range Recce Group in Mali (Picture: British Army).