Mali

France action in Mali is real war, says Le Drian

by BBC News Africa  |  published on February 8, 2013

French forces are embroiled in a “real war” with “terrorists” around the Malian town of Gao, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said.

Islamist militants were swept from Gao last month, but Mr Le Drian said clashes were continuing in the area.

French forces were deployed nearly a month ago to combat al-Qaeda-linked militants who had taken over Mali’s desert northern regions.

Paris says it wants to begin pulling out its 4,000 troops in March.

“The president confirmed this morning that if everything goes to plan, the number of French troops in Mali will begin to fall from the month of March,” a government spokeswoman said.

The Mali militants have been routed and cleared from most of the population centres.

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