French forces in Mali have seized the airport and the bridge over the Niger River in the Islamist rebel-held stronghold of Gao, the French Defence Ministry said.
Throughout ten months of Islamist rule, the people of Timbuktu risked their lives to preserve the artefacts of their ancient heritage.
Francois Hollande is due to visit Timbuktu during his visit to the West African country this weekend. He will be welcomed by many.
Downing Street have been explaining what offers the UK have made to the military effort in Mali.