French and Malian troops patrol Gao

Men sit outside a shop as Malian and French flags decorate the area in Sevare, near Gao. Credit: Reuters / Adama Diarra

A Malian military spokesman says French and Malian troops are patrolling the critically important city of Gao, in northern Mali.

Lt. Col. Duarran Kone, a spokesman for Mali's defence ministry, said that forces have maintained their hold over a key bridge in the town, as well as the airport.

The capture of the airport is the biggest advance yet in the effort to retake the north of the country.