Mali operation a success: French minister

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iol pic afr Mali Fighting~3

AP

A French soldier secures a perimeter on the outskirts of Diabaly, Mali, some 460kms north of the capital Bamako on January 21, 2013.

Paris -

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

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the comments on 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 January 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. - Sapa-AP


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