France to send 2,500 troops to Mali, official says

France to send 2,500 troops to Mali, official says

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A French soldier stands at attention as the cortege following the hearse carrying the coffin of French air force lieutenant Damien Boiteux, killed on January 11, 2013 during French military operation "Serval" in Mali, crosses the Alexandre III bridge in Paris, on January 15, 2013. French pilot Damien Boiteux was killed during a helicopter raid launched to support Mali ground troops in the battle for the key town of Kona, and to prevent Islamist groups controlling northern Mali from advancing toward the capital Bamako. AFP PHOTO JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 15 at 11:17 AM

PARIS (AP) — An official at France's Defense Ministry says the country will "gradually deploy" a total of 2,500 troops to Mali, and the French president says the military operation will last until security has been restored and African forces are ready to take charge.

A French Defense Ministry official who was not able to speak publicly about the total and requested anonymity said there were 800 troops currently in Mali and more on the way.

In a news conference Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates, President Francois Hollande said France would remain to stop militants linked to al-Qaida from seizing the country, secure its capital and help the government regain control.

He said France would take a lesser role "as soon as there is an African force, in coming days or weeks."

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