France ready to start Mali withdrawal

Malian soldiers fire a machine gun as they battle Islamists on the streets of Gao. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Malian soldiers fire a machine gun as they battle Islamists on the streets of Gao. REUTERS/Joe Penney
France is still ready to start pulling its forces out of Mali next month despite a rebel attack on the key town of Gao, the French commander of the defence staff says.

Admiral Edouard Guillaud told reporters after a speech in Ottawa that he was not surprised by Thursday's (local time) attack in Gao, when 15 Islamists were killed by French and Malian troops.

Asked whether France still planned to start withdrawing troops in March, he replied: "This is obviously conditions-based, that's obvious. But yet, I don't see any reason not to begin some drawdown."

 

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