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France defers troop pull-out after Mali clashes

Troops from the French-led Operation Serval in Mali patrol an area on the outskirts of Gao on October 16, 2013France has delayed plans to pull troops out of its former colony Mali after a fresh bout of clashes in a key town. France said earlier this month it was ending its “frontal war phase” in Mali after sending troops there in 2013 to free the country’s vast desert north from Islamists and Tuareg rebels who seized control after a coup. It planned to redeploy 2,000 of its 3,000 remaining troops serving in Mali under an operation named Serval to other countries in the Sahel region. Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had been due to go to Mali and Chad at the weekend for a reorganisation of the deployment, but has cancelled the visit, the source said.

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