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French forces patrol Malian city of Gao as others make way toward Timbuktu

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SEVARE, Mali - A Malian military spokesman says French and Malian troops are patrolling the critically important city of Gao in northern Mali.

Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, a spokesman for Mali's defence minister, said Sunday that the forces have maintained their hold over a key bridge as well as the airport.

The French military announced on Saturday that Gao had been liberated from radical Islamist rule, though other officials said the fight was still in progress late Saturday.

The taking of Gao's airport marked the biggest advance yet in the effort to retake the north. The Islamists also have controlled the towns of Timbuktu and Kidal since last April.

French and Malian forces were also advancing toward Timbuktu on Sunday.

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