French warplanes pound north Mali


French warplanes continued to strike rebel targets in Mali over the weekend while French President Hollande visited the country.


Eric Feferberg

French warplanes slammed rebel positions in northern Mali on Saturday night.

The strikes involved 30 warplanes and were carried out near the Kidal region - what Euronews called the last bastion of militant radicals.

It is believed that the militants are on the retreat and have been pushed out of all their major strongholds.

The assault on the Tessalit area came hours after the short visit of France's President Francois Hollande.

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Hollande was greeted in Mali with a hero's welcome, with both the French and Malians largely supporting the intervention.

Hollande did not declare victory but was optimistic in his assessment of the intervention.

"Terrorism has been pushed back, it has been chased away, but it has not been defeated yet," said Hollande, reported AFP.

"France will stay by your side as long as necessary, as long as it takes for Africans themselves . . . to replace us."

A recent Washington Post editorial warned that France could get bogged down in an insurgency in Mali's vast desert.