France starts withdrawal of troops from Mali

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RFI

France withdraws first soldiers from Mali

French soldier in Operation Gustav, north of Gao, Mali
            By RFI

France has withdrawn around 100 soldiers from Mali, the army announced on Tuesday.

The military’s chief of staff said they had been withdrawn and sent to  Paphos in Cyprus on Monday, where they will spend three days in a hotel before heading back to France.

French president François Hollande said last month that by July only about 2000 French soldiers will still be in Mali, compared to 4000 today.

Paris plans to leave a permanent 1,000-strong force to fight terrorism.

While French-led troops have inflicted severe losses on the Islamists, soldiers are still battling significant pockets of resistance in Gao, as well as in the desert city of Timbuktu.

A French force of 1000 soldiers this weekend launched Operation Gustav, one of the largest offensives since France’s intervention, sweeping a valley…

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