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Ivorian forces prepare for Malian fight

April 8, 2013 at 11:52 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April 8 (UPI) -- French forces announced the start of a training operation in Mali that would help Ivorian troops prepare for an African deployment.

French forces arrived in Ivory Coast to help train more than 200 troops for deployment to Mali. France 24 reports that Ivorian units would officially work in a logistics capacity, though training operations in Abidjan focused on mock attacks against militant forces.

The French report said the Ivorian battalion would arrive in Mali near the end of the month. France is looking to bring home the estimated 4,000 troops sent in January to Mali, a former French colony, at the government's request.

The Malian government lost control over the north of the country to al-Qaida and foreign rebels following a coup in early 2012.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said from Mali last week that foreign Tuareg rebels needed to disarm. Fabius confirmed that French forces will start a draw down at the end of the month to make way for a U.N. peacekeeping force of around 11,000 troops.

French and international leaders said Malian recovery depends on political achievements as well as military gains. Fabius, however, said French forces won't disappear from the Malian landscape completely, France 24 reports.

"I'll tell my partners that we will not go overnight," he said.

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