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African force in Mali now 1,000 soldiers: French army

PARIS (Reuters) - There are now 1,000 soldiers from West Africa and Chad on the ground in Mali as part of an intervention force that should eventually number several thousand, France's armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard said on Monday.

Burkhard told reporters 830 soldiers from countries including Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria, plus 170 from Chad, were backing France's force of 2,150 soldiers on the ground, helping the Malian army push back Islamist rebel fighters.

(This version corrects the number to 1,000 soldiers from 830.)

(Reporting by John Irish and Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Catherine Bremer; editing by Mark John)

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