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French forces on Friday took control of the strategic oasis town of Tessalit in far northeastern Mali, one of the last bastions of Islamist rebels, the military said.
General Staff spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said French forces "control Tessalit" after an overnight operation that saw special forces parachute into the local airport.
He said they were joined by other soldiers from the special forces who arrived on a transport plane as well as soldiers sent by Chad to boost a regional west African force pledged by member nations.
Tessalit is near the Algerian border in a mountainous region where the militant extremists are believed to have fled following a French-led offensive on Islamists who had occupied Mali's vast arid north for 10 months.