ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: The French army released video footage on Thursday showing French soldiers destroying ammunition. France's defense minister said on Wednesday French and Malian troops were fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahara outside northern Mali's biggest town, describing the desert campaign against al Qaeda as a "real war" that was far from won. After driving the Islamists from northern Mali's main towns with three weeks of air strikes and a lightning ground advance, France is now pursuing them in the remote northeast, where pro-autonomy Tuaregs are pressing their own territorial claims. With just 4,000 ground troops in an area the size of Texas, France has appealed for the swift deployment of a U.N.-backed African military force (AFISMA) to help secure the region, and says it expects to start pulling its troops out from March. The African deployment has been slowed by lack of transport and equipment, but Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in Paris that France wanted the African force to be converted into a U.N. peacekeeping force by April.
Feb. 7 - The French army releases footage of operations in Mali which show French soldiers destroying ammunition in the town of Gao. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). ( Transcript )
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