Paratroopers from the French Foreign Legion have taken control of the north of Timbuktu.
The French military says it has set up checkpoints on the outskirts of the city on access routes.
Al Jazeera filmed this exclusive footage inside Timbuktu, showing fighters of the Ansar el-Dine militia, who have been occupying the city for the last 10 months, vacating their bases.
The fighters have told Al Jazeera the withdrawal is a tactical retreat with a view to regrouping and plotting a later assault.
Source: Al Jazeera