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French soldiers from the 126th Regiment Infantery carry boxes... News PhotoAfrica,Armed Forces,Army Soldier,Bottle,Carrying,Conflict,Desert,French Culture,Gao City,Gao Region,Horizontal,Inside Of,Kilometre,Mali,Military,On Shoulders,Outdoors,Rear View,Walking,War,WaterPhotographer Collection: AFP 2013 AFPFrench soldiers from the 126th Regiment Infantery carry boxes containing water bottles on April 8, 2013 some 105 kilometers North of Gao. A French force of 1,000 soldiers in a major offensive has swept a valley thought to be a logistics base for Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists near the Malian city of Gao. Operation Gustav, one of France's largest actions since its intervention against insurgents in January, will involve dozens of tanks, helicopters, drones and airplanes, said General Bernard Barrera, commander of the French land forces in Mali. France is to start withdrawing its 4,000 troops from Mali at the end of April, and plans to leave a 'support force' of 1,000 soldiers after elections promised for July. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)