Gao and Timbuktu could be free of Islamist and terrorist control within a month, AFP quoted the head of the Malian army as saying on Tuesday (January 22nd).
Gerneral Ibrahima Dembele's comments followed reports that French planes had destroyed a major base of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) near Timbuktu.
A mansion once owned by slain Libya dictator Moamer Kadhafi and other sites used by Ansar al-Din and AQIM were also bombed.
International support for the Mali offensive continues to grow. Ivory Coast said it would deploy 500 soldiers for the African force and Togo has boosted its troop allotment.
Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Arab Emirates are providing transport planes or helicopters to help move the African and French troops around Mali.