Key dates in French-led Mali intervention

A timeline of key events in Mali since France in January intervened to help the army in its former colony recapture the country's north from Islamist fighters.

-- JANUARY 2013 --

- 11: France launches Operation Serval, aimed at halting the advance of armed Islamists and supporting Malian government troops, a day after Islamists capture the government-held central town of Konna, saying they will push further south towards the capital Bamako.

- 14: Rebels abandon key northern bases.

- 16: The crisis takes on a new dimension when Islamists take hundreds of Algerian and foreign workers hostage at a gas site in Algeria's remote southeastern desert, in an attack they say is to avenge France's intervention in Mali. On January 19, Algerian special forces storm the gas complex, ending the hostage drama. Thirty-seven foreign hostages died in the siege and rescue operation by the Algerian army, while 29 of the Islamist assailants were killed

- 23: A Paris-based rights group says Malian soldiers have carried out multiple summary executions since the start of the French-backed offensive.

- 26: French-led troops recapture Gao in the north.

- 28: Malian and French forces recapture Timbuktu, also in the north.

- 30: French troops retake control of Kidal airport.


- 8: After the far northern town of Aguelhok, French and Chadian soldiers take control of strategic town Tessalit.

- 10: Rebel gunmen attack Gao in the first large-scale urban guerrilla assault of the conflict.

- 18: The start of an operation aimed at expelling Islamists from the mountainous Ifoghas region in the northeast. Violent clashes oppose French and Chadian soldiers and Islamists there. In March, French President Francois Hollande says that one of the key leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, has been killed in fighting with French-led forces in northern Mali.

-- APRIL --

- 8: A French force of 1,000 soldiers begins a sweep, called Operation Gustav, of a river valley thought to be a logistics base for armed Islamists near Gao.

- 25: The UN Security Council approves sending a force of up to 12,600 troops and police to Mali, to take over from French and African troops.

-- MAY --

- 27: The first round of Mali's presidential election is set for July 28.

-- JUNE --

- 2: Witnesses complain that Tuareg separatists, who occupy Kidal, have attacked black inhabitants with the intention of "expelling" them from the regional capital. The government denounces "ethnic cleansing", while the Tuaregs deny the accusations.

- 5: Malian soldiers clash with Tuaregs in the area of Anefis, south of Kidal.

- 7: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accuse Mali's army and rebel groups of a string of abuses during the French-led operation.

- 16: AQIM confirms that Abdelhamid Abou Zeid has been killed in fighting in Mali, three months after France's announcement of his death.

- 18: The government and Tuareg rebels occupying Kidal sign an accord in Burkina Faso paving the way for presidential elections.