Soldiers mobilized for Saturday’s planned Yellow Jacket protests will operate under strict instructions, but could open fire if their lives or the lives of civilians are threatened, General Bruno Leray, military governor of Paris, said Friday.
Several thousand soldiers from Opération Sentinelle, a French military operation deployed following the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks, will be stationed outside numerous official sites during Saturday’s demonstrations — the 19th weekend of street protests by the broad anti-government movement.
“The orders will be clear enough so that they [the soldiers] do not have to worry,” Leray said in response to one anonymous member of the military who called into the radio show noting that Opération Sentinelle soldiers “do not have the same protective equipment as the CRS,” the general reserve of the French National Police.
The plans to have soldiers on guard outside several buildings have prompted a political debate and raised concerns among the military that they do not have the necessary training and arms to carry out the level of policing required.
“My subject is not a political one,” Leray said when asked whether the purpose of his rare public address was to warn nonviolent protesters to stay away from the demonstrations, which have regularly degenerated into violence. “The subject of the soldiers is to continue the fight against terrorism one day at a time, as they’ve been doing for four years.”
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