French Defense Minister Says French-Led Intervention in Mali is in its Hardest Phase

Fighting Islamic militants in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains


(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.