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France ends Mali offensive, redeploys troops to restive Sahel

French soldiers patrol as part of the Hydra Operation in a desert near the village of Bamba between Timbuktu and Gao, northern Mali on October 30, 2013France said Sunday its military offensive that freed northern Mali from the grip of Islamists would be replaced by an operation spanning the wider, largely lawless Sahel region to combat extremist violence. The so-called Serval offensive kicked off in January last year when French troops came to the help of Malian soldiers to stop Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Tuareg rebels from descending south of its former colony and advancing on the capital Bamako. President Francois Hollande, speaking on the eve of France’s Bastille Day military parade in Paris, said the mission had been “perfectly accomplished”.

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