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France sees military intervention in Mali in six months


08:55, December 25, 2012

PARIS, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday expected a possible military intervention to quash Islamist terrorists in northern Mali during the first six months of 2013.

"The military intervention would be over the first half next year ... For the moment, there is no political solution," the minister told the daily La Croix.

Le Drian reiterated Paris' refusal to send French combat forces to the conflict-torn African country but it will provide technical support to African troops to retake northern Malian region from Islamist insurgents.

"The concept of operation is in the process to become more refined," the minister said, adding that an European contingent of 400 troops will be formed at the beginning of next year before being sent to Mali to help training local army and preparing it to restore country's sovereignty.

On Thursday, the UN Security Council approved French-backed resolution authorizing the deployment of an African peacekeeping force known as AFISMA, for an initial one-year-mission.

Mali, a former French colony, has been struggling to stay as one united nation since a military coup in March when hardline Islamists and Tuareg rebel forces seeking an independent homeland took advantage of the chaos and seized control of the north.

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