French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, center, speaks with French officers on Jan. 1 in Niamey, Mali. France will cut its troops in Mali to 1,600 by the middle of next month from the current level of 2,500, President Francois Hollande said Wednesday. (Boureima Hama / AFP)
CREIL, FRANCE — France will cut its troops in Mali to 1,600 by the middle of next month from the current level of 2,500, President Francois Hollande said Wednesday.
Speaking at an airbase in Creil in northern France, Hollande said the “situation is well under control” in Mali, where the “key objectives of the mission have been accomplished.”
“The troop size will be reduced from about 2,500 at present to 1,600 and then to 1,000 which is the number necessary to fight any threat that might resurface as these terrorist groups are still present in northern Mali,” the president said.
France launched the military Operation Serval in its former colony on Jan. 11, 2013, to repel an Islamist advance following a coup.
The intervention has been widely hailed as a success internationally for stopping al-Qaida-linked militants and Tuareg rebels from descending south of the sprawling country and advancing on the capital Bamako.