France to reduce its troops in Mali to 1,600

CREIL, France (AP) - President Francois Hollande says France will reduce its troop levels in Mali, where it routed Islamic radicals last year, to 1,600 troops by mid-February.

Hollande said Wednesday that a year after the French-led intervention, "we now have the situation in hand."

France poured in 5,000 troops at the height of the operation. There are now 2,500 French troops in Mali, along with African forces.

Radicals from an al-Qaida affiliate that once controlled northern Mali have been killed or dispersed elsewhere in the Sahel region, notably to southern Libya. That realignment has created new dangers. Hollande said France will keep 1,000 troops in Mali to fight terrorists, but did not say for how long.

France also plans to use two unarmed Reaper Drones to survey the region for the troops.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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