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Fri May 06 01:51:30 SAST 2016

Mali operation a success: French defence minister

Sapa-AP | 31 January, 2013 11:21
French soldiers check an aircraft, which is used to send minor equipment to frontline troops, at Bamako airport.
Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS

France's defence minister is calling the nearly three-week-old military operation in Mali a success.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the comments Thursday after French-led forces took control of the three provincial capitals held by the Islamists since last April.

But Le Drian told France Inter radio that doesn't mean that the military risks and combat are finished. He says the French don't intend to stay but "this isn't the time to disengage."

France launched its military offensive Jan. 11 after radical Islamists surged into central Mali from their strongholds in the north.

The French and Malians have recaptured Gao and Timbuktu, and announced Wednesday that forces had arrived in Kidal.

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