France a former colonial power in West Africa aims at a “total reconquest” of Mali in its military offensive against militants there, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says.
According to News.com.au, French fighters are closing in on the mountainous region of Kidal, 930 miles from Bamako, near the border with Algeria.
France has sent in 2,000 troops to help African forces fight Islamist militants who had taken control the country’s vast desert north since March last year.
The militants joined anti-government Tuareg separatists in but the two groups had since had a falling out, and the Islamists have since gained the upper hand.
Meanwhile, according to Le Drian, seven French citizens had been taken hostage by Islamist militants in Niger and Mali in recent years and were still alive.
The French foreign minister has said both Russia and Canada had offered logistical support to dislodge the rebels from Mali .
Islamist militants in Algeria who seized a gas facility in the Sahara desert, killing several foreign hostages, claimed the attack was in retaliation for the French intervention in Mali, though many analysts doubt this.