ABIDJAN, March 22, 2007 (AFP) - France will soon reduce its forces in Ivory Coast to below 3,000 following a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel forces, a military official said Thursday. France currently has 3,500 troops in the country who have operated alongside United Nations forces to patrol a buffer zone dividing the rebel-controlled north and the government-led south. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel head Guillaume Soro reached a peace deal earlier this month designed to lead to the formation of an interim government and elections. Soro led a 2002 abortive coup against Gbagbo, triggering a brief civil war that left the west African country divided. The peace agreement also calls for the scaling down of both UN troops and French forces. The UN has some 7,000 troops in Ivory Coast. French Lieutenant Colonel Christian Rascle did not give specific numbers in his announcement, but said the withdrawal to below 3,000 troops should occur within a couple of months. In the meantime troops would be redeployed from the west of the country to the centre, and in particular the commercial capital of Abidjan and the political capital of Yamoussoukro, he told a press conference. The UN Security Council has extended the mandate for French forces in Ivory Coast until June 30. Rascle said the modifications to the French force, known as Operation Unicorn, resulted from the improvements in the security situation, and the planned elimination of the buffer zone and formation of a unified national army. "We are anticipating what is likely to happen in the next few weeks," he said. http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/archives/news/2007/March/africa/20070322-Ivory-Coast-France-troops.html The 7Â°BCA (Mountain Inf Bn) will be pulled out from IC between now and the 15th of May as part of that draw down.