French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian claimed today that his country would pull out of Mali in "a matter of weeks."
France sent troops to Mali on January 11 to spearhead the recapture of the country's north from Islamist militants.
Alongside African forces, it retook major cities relatively swiftly, but there were fears of a drawn-out conflict as rebels fled to the mountains.
Mr Le Drian said African forces weren't ready to take over yet, but said France had "no reason to stay" once they were.
A legionnaire became only the second French fatality of the campaign on Tuesday as forces clashed with jihadists in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range.
It is thought that seven French hostages are hidden in the area.
The army said 20 militants were also killed in the fighting.
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