France's defense minister announced Wednesday his troops will start pulling out of Mali within weeks.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's decision comes despite new clashes and difficulties in rooting out armed extremists in the West African country.
MUJAO, an extremist group connected to al Qaeda, took control of northern Mali last year. France sent troops in January to help Malian forces retake the north to prevent the region from becoming a haven for terrorists.
Despite the coming pullout, Gao CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane, who just returned from Mali, has more on the situation there, on CBN Newswatch, Feb. 20.
Mayor Sadou Diallo remained hopeful of the outcome.
"I am optimistic that they won't leave without finishing their work," he said. "We don't want them to stay for years. We hope that MUJAO is wiped out, that elections can be held and that development can begin."