Troops from the Malian armed forces have taken control of northern town of Kidal, which has been held and controlled by rebel forces after a recent onslaught.
In a coordinated attack, the army inflicted heavy losses on the Tuareg-dominated rebel groups.
They have long held most of northern Kidal, which is reported to pose a major sovereignty issue for the military government.
Military President, Assimi Goita posted on X: “Today, our armed and security forces have taken over Kidal. Our mission is not complete.”
The army and the state have been absent from the area for years until now.
In anticipation of an army offensive following several days of airstrikes on Friday, the rebels in Kidal cut off phone links.
Kidal desert area holds about 25,000 residents which is a key site on the route to Algeria and a historic hotbed of insurrection.
Inhabitants have been braced for a confrontation since the Tuareg uprising resurged in August. In October, the ethnic Tuareg rebels stormed and seized a base vacated by the departing UN peacekeeping mission. Then Mali’s army moved in to retake it. The move is a strategic and symbolic success for Mali’s junta, which seized power in a 2020 coup.