French and Mali army troops made key gains against Islamic operatives in northern Mali in recent days.
The troops now control the Kidal airport in the provincial capital of Kadul, although the fight to control the city is ongoing, France's military spokesman reported.
The forces also re-captured the cities of Timbuktu and Gao. However, a lack of funds and troops is slowing down the French initiative.
The African Union recently pledged $450 million in aid to fight the operatives but says an additional $500 million is needed.