02/05/2013 05:02 EST | Updated 04/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Troops from France and Chad move into north Malian city of Kidal

PARIS - The French military says troops from France and Chad have moved into the north Malian city of Kidal and its airport as they seek to further squeeze Islamist extremists who had seized control of a swath of the African country.

A French military official said Tuesday that some 1,800 Chadian troops have entered Kidal. The official says French troops took control of the Kidal airport and are working to secure it so that they can bring in more forces. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to French military policy.

The French-led military intervention against advancing Islamist fighters started more than three weeks ago and has pushed quickly northward into Mali.