Paris: French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday said his country will begin withdrawing troops from Mali in April, 2013 as the terrorist kingpins have been destroyed.
Speaking in Warsaw, the president said that the final phase of military intervention would continue throughout March and be scaled down in April.
The campaign in the north had killed “terrorist leaders”, Mr Hollande said without giving any names.
Chad had said its soldiers, fighting alongside the French troops, killed two top militant commanders, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and veteran Islamist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
On Wednesday, Mr Hollande said that the “final phase” of the French intervention “will last through March and from April there will be a decrease in the number of French soldiers in Mali as African forces will take over, supported by the Europeans”.
There have been four French deaths since military operations began on 11 January.
Some 4,000 French troops are present in the West African state. Mali’s army and troops from several African countries, including 2,000 from Chad, have also been involved in the fighting.
Islamist rebels took control of northern Mali a year ago after a military coup in the capital Bamako, in the south.
France intervened militarily in January amid fears the rebels were preparing to advance on Bamako.