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FRENCH PULLOUT STARTS

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First 100 Troops Leave Mali
By Harold Hutchison

As the first 100 French troops left Mali, a sign that France is ending an intervention against Islamist rebels aligned with al-Qaeda, many in Mali are wary of the departure, even as 11,000 African Union troops are slated to take over.

According to a report by VOA News, the French force is likely to decline to about 1,000 by the end of the year. The French did much of the heavy lifting the conflict.

"We need to be able to trust our men, the Malian army. We need to cooperate with them…. And, whatever training it is that the French have, we want our army to have the same so that they can take over the security of this country," Imam Hama Maiga told VOA News.

Some experts have said that troops from countries like Nigeria and Senegal, who are taking over as the French troops depart, are not likely to be as capable as the troops who have fought for the last three months.