(Reuters) - French forces searching for al Qaeda-linked militants in the hidden valleys of the remote north of Mali are now deep in the Islamists' sanctuary, France's defense minister said on Friday.
A day after a visit to Mali, Jean-Yves Le Drian said the current phase of the eight-week-old French-led offensive was the hardest, as it required winkling the Islamist fighters out of entrenched positions in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.
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