France To Reduce Mali Troops By 60%: Defense Min.

French soldiers in northern Mali (file photo)

The French defense minister says the country will reduce the number of its troops in Mali in the next three months by 60%.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited Mali on Tuesday at the start of a tour of Africa, said 1,000 troops would be left in the West African country by the end of March.

On January 11, 2013, France launched a war in Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country.

The 1,000 French soldiers left in Mali will fight the rebel groups in the widespread deserts in the northern parts of the country.

“We will remain by the side of the Malian army, and also MINUSMA (the UN forces), for as long as it takes,” Le Drian said.

Chaos broke out in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.

However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region, which is larger than France or Texas.

Press TV

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