French troops deploy to last of Mali rebel strongholds

DAKAR, Jan 30 (Reuters) - French troops have been deployed at the airport of the northern Malian town of Kidal, the last rebel stronghold in the north, a French officer and a local official told Reuters on Wednesday.

"I can confirm it. They arrived late last night and they deployed in four planes and some helicopters," said Haminy Belco Maiga, president of the regional assembly of Kidal.

A French officer said operations were "ongoing" in Kidal, the last of northern Mali's major towns to be retaken by French forces after they reached Gao and Timbuktu earlier this week. (Reporting by David Lewis and Richard Valdmanis; editing by Patrick Graham)