BAMAKO, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The French troops on Sunday launched fresh aerial raids against the islamist positions in northeastern Mali, sources in Mali have said, one day after the visit to Mali by the French President Francois Hollande.
The French army massively bombarded the region of Kidal which was the last stronghold of the islamists in northern Mali, near the Algerian border. The French military spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard also confirmed the bombardments which, he said, targeted the "logistical bases as well as the training grounds of the islamists," in zones near the Algerian border.
"A total of 30 fighter jets were used for these aerial bombardments," the army spokesman said.
Meanwhile, French Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday that the French army will rapidly withdraw from the towns it is holding in northern Mali, especially Timbuktu, which was captured about a week ago from the hands of islamists.
"In the towns that we are holding, we want to quickly be replaced by the African contingents of the International Support Mission for Mali (MISMA)," the French chief diplomat said.
He affirmed that France does not have the intention of staying in Timbuktu for a longer period and that it will hand over the town to forces deployed by the member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Jean-Claude Mallet, adviser to the French defense ministry, said at a three-day security conference that began on Friday in Munich of Germany said his country is now trying to advance the political process as it tries to capture all the occupied towns, in partnership with its African partners.
"The military intervention will make no sense if it's not accompanied by the political process that involves all Malian people," Mallet said.
On Wednesday last week, France urged the Malian government to begin negotiations with the "legitimate representatives" of the people in the northern parts of the country, after the arrival of French troops in Kidal, the last town that was occupied by the rebels.
In response, Mali's Interim President Dioncounda Traore said that the government had opened dialogue with the separatist rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), but insisted that there will be no talks with islamists who are allied to Al-Qaida.
"We are perfectly aware of all that: the military intervention is just the beginning of a long process that is meant to resolve the conflict," the German Defense Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said at the conference.
Germany has deployed cargo-planes in Mali as part of logistical support for the troops deployed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). German has also sent millions of euros but has refused to send any troops to Mali.