France: Hundreds of Islamist rebels killed in Mali

France's defence minister has said that "several hundred" Islamist militants have been killed since an offensive was launched in Mali last month, the BBC reports.

Jean-Yves Le Drian said they had been killed in airstrikes and direct combat with French troops.

France's President Francois Hollande greets people in the centre of Timbuktu on February 2 2013 Credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

On Tuesday, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said French troops will begin pulling out of Mali in March.

French troops aboard a tank are greeted by Malians as they arrived in Timbuktu in January Credit: REUTERS/Arnaud Roine/ECPAD/Handout