Jan. 27 - Malian and French forces captured the rebel stronghold of Gao -- the biggest victory for them since the two week military intervention began. Deborah Gembara reports.
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It's the biggest victory for Malian and French forces so far. Overnight, they took control of the rebel stronghold of Gao. The troops, seen here at the airport --- drove al Qaeda-linked fighters from the area.
Gao's Mayor, Sadou Diallo says he's grateful for the French intervention.
SOUNDBITE: Sadou Diallo, Mayor Of Gao saying (French)
"I salute him again - a thousand times I salute Hollande for his courage and for making this decision."
Many who fled Gao ahead of air strikes say that while Islamist fighters have left the town, they are hiding in the bush.
French Special Forces led the mission to capture the the town --- the largest in the occupied north.