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French soldiers stand next to the Niger river on January 20, 2013... News Photo2012-2013 Northern Mali Conflict,Army Soldier,Bamako,City,Close To,Conflict,French Culture,Horizontal,Kilometer,Mali,Niger River,Standing,WarPhotographer Collection: AFP 2013 AFPFrench soldiers stand next to the Niger river on January 20, 2013 near city of Markala, about 260 kms northeast of the capital Bamako and 60 kms. A spokesman for the French military operation codenamed Serval said on January 20 that French forces were advancing towards Mali's Islamist-held north after taking up positions in the towns of Niono and Sevare. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)