Mali: French troops to pullout within weeks

2013-02-20 13:41


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Paris - France's defense minister says French troop units will start pulling out of Mali within weeks, despite new clashes and challenges in rooting out armed extremists in the West African country.

Extremists linked to al-Qaeda seized control of northern Mali last year. France fears the region could become a terrorist haven, and France sent troops on January 11 to help Malian forces retake the north.

Jean-Yves Le Drian acknowledged on Wednesday that the African military force meant to take over from the French is not ready yet. But he said on France 2 television that "we have no reason to stay ... it's a matter of weeks."

Le Drian said an operation in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains that killed a French soldier and some 20 militants Tuesday will continue "for a while".

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  france  |  mali  |  west africa

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