A Malian soldier talks with civilians in central Timbuktu January 31, 2013. Mali's president offered Tuareg rebels talks on Thursday in a bid for national reconciliation after a French-led offensive drove their Islamist former allies into mountain hideaways. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (MALI - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY) - RTR3D78Q
Fighting is again flaring in Mali around the northern city of Gao, despite reports that rebels had ceded the territory to incoming French troops. CBC reporter Laura Lynch just returned from Gao. She tells host Marco Werman that local residents want the French soldiers to stay put.
"The French may want to go home, but that might not be an easy thing," Lynch says, adding that on the drive into Bamako Wednesday she saw two large convoys of heavy French fighting vehicles heading up the road on the way to Gao.
"They seem to be getting ready for another battle," Lynch says.
France is anxious to begin drawing down its 4,000 soldiers from Mali. The French foreign minister said Wednesday those troops should begin pulling out in March.