About 10 Islamist rebels were killed in fighting involving French special forces in northern Mali earlier this month, the defence ministry said on Thursday.
The battle, which took place north of Timbuktu on 1 October, was some of the heaviest fighting since a French military intervention dislodged rebel forces in control of northern Mali early this year. The spokesman for the French General Staff, Colonel Gilles Jaron, would not provide exact details of the battle but said both a helicopter and ground troops were involved.
There are currently 3,200 French soldiers in Mali after a military intervention dislodged Islamic militants who had seized the West African country's vast desert north. The number of French troops in the country is to drop to about 1,000 early next year as the French hand over more peacekeeping responsibilities to a UN force.