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French troops extend their control in Chad

French forces have extended their control over Chadian territory in what military analysts in Paris see as a major strategy shift aimed at forcing Libya out of the vast central African country.

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Chadian rebels fighting the government of President Hissein Habre see the French military advance as an ''open declaration of war'' and will retaliate with Libyan aid, a spokesman for the rebels said Sunday.

French helicopter crews Saturday conducted a reconnaissance mission over a new defense zone secured on Friday after troops moved about 60 miles north of the former French ''red line'' across central Chad.

The crews detected ''no hostile presence,'' and no new clashes have been reported in Chad since rebel forces shot down a French Jaguar fighter plane on Wednesday.

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