French troops to stay in Mali through end of 2013

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm •  Published: March 28, 2013

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande says the country's troops will stay in Mali to fight extremists at least through the end of this year.

France's leadership had pledged to pull out quickly after launching a military operation in the West African country in January. French-led forces quickly pushed al-Qaida-linked fighters out of Malian cities.

But pockets of resistance remain.

Hollande said on France-2 television Thursday night that the first of France's more than 4,000 troops in Mali will pull out in late April.

By July, he said about 2,000 French soldiers will still be in the former French colony, and at the end of the year "1,000 French soldiers will remain." He said the French troops would likely be part of a U.N. peacekeeping operation that France is pushing for.