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French troops control key airport in last north Mali city that was held by Islamist rebels

France's military spokesman said troops now are in control of the Kidal airport in northern Mali, seizing a key position in one of three provincial capitals the Islamist militants took over last year. French and Malian troops have recaptured two of the other cities, Timbuktu and Gao, in recent days.

French army Col. Thierry Burkhard said the airport was taken overnight and described the operation in Kidal itself as "ongoing."

Haminy Maiga, the interim president of the Kidal regional assembly, said French forces met no resistance when they entered the town on Tuesday . He said French troops and helicopters were in the city on Wednesday.

The loss of Kidal would mean the Islamists no longer control any of the northern provincial capitals that they had seized last April.