News / Africa

French Troops to Begin Withdrawal From Mali in April

France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.
x
France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.
France's President Francois Hollande (C) speaks to military officials as he attends a ceremony to the memory of Stephane Hessel, at the Invalides in Paris, March 7, 2013.
Anne Look
French President Francois Hollande said that French troops will begin pulling out of Mali in April. French, Malian and Chadian troops continue to face resistance from Islamist militants in the north, and analysts say the militant threat to both northern Mali and the greater Sahel region is far from neutralized.

Hollande said the French military campaign in Mali that began on January 11 is in its "ultimate phase."

He said this is the final stage because they have succeeded in all the other stages: the liberation of the major towns and the securing of Mali's national territory. He said this last stage will last for the whole month of March, and beginning in April there will be a decrease in the number of French soldiers in Mali - as soon as the African forces take over with support from the Europeans.

Hollande spoke Wednesday in Poland, as French and Chadian troops continue to face fierce resistance in the Ifoghas mountains of far northeastern Mali.

The area is the longtime hideout of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. It is where some of the fighters from the various al-Qaida-linked groups who controlled northern Mali for 10 months are believed to have fled.

The French say they have recovered impressive caches of weapons in the Ifoghas and are reporting dozens of Islamists captured or killed.

Chad says its troops in that zone killed two key AQIM field commanders - Abu Zeid and Mohktar Belmokhtar. Confirmation remains sketchy, however, and Paris has been circumspect.

On Wednesday, Hollande said the French would reveal more information in coming days on "successes" in the Ifoghas, including the killing of certain "terrorist leaders," though he didn't name anyone.

French and Malian forces also are trying to round up Islamist fighters holed up in villages around the northern town of Gao.

France lost its fourth soldier Wednesday since the start of the campaign in a rebel ambush 100 kilometers east of Gao. The French army said the Malian army, backed up by French airpower, killed 30 Islamists in that engagement.

The question of what will happen when the French withdraw has been persistent since the first French airstrike in January.

Sahel security experts, like J. Peter Pham of the Washington-based Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, say it is dangerous to underestimate the number of militants who are "biding their time," as well as the work still needed to properly train and equip the regional African force, which so far has been slow to deploy.

"If the French do withdraw most of their 4,000 troops, you're going to have a relatively weak African force, poorly trained, heading right into the rainy season without the strength of the French forces, facing militants who have gone to ground or gone to the mountains or wherever now, crawling back out and potentially launching asymmetric attacks all throughout the rainy season that could turn the African forces into little more than defending isolated garrisons," said Pham.

Jihadist groups in northern Mali repeatedly pledged revenge attacks against France and any African countries joining the regional force.

Militants so far have carried out three suicide bombings targeting the towns of Gao and Kidal in northern Mali.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Johan Bosman from: Flanders
March 13, 2013 6:47 AM
Once more by using the vague term "militants" there is no distinction made between the terrorist islamists and the Tuareg resistance fighters!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid