French army starts military operations to support Mali troops countering Islamist rebels 1201131

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Defence News - Mali

 
 
Saturday, January 12, 2013, 09:17 AM
 
French army starts military operations to support Mali troops countering Islamist rebels offensive.
French President Francois Hollande announced on Friday, January 11, 2013, that French forces have launched military intervention in support of Malian troops countering Islamist rebels' offensive. "We are faced with a blatant aggression that is threatening Mali's very existence. France can not accept this," said the French head of state.
     
French President Francois Hollande announced on Friday, January 11, 2013, that French forces have launched military intervention in support of Malian troops countering Islamist rebels' offensive. "We are faced with a blatant aggression that is threatening Mali's very existence. France can not accept this," said the French head of state.
Fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group MUJWA stand guard in northern Mali. Rebel fighters have taken control of the strategic town of Douentza.
     

"I have decided that France will respond, together with our African partners, to the request from Malian authorities. We will do it strictly within the framework of a UN Security Council resolution," the president said, referring to motions adopted by the UN Security Council since the beginning of the crisis in Mali in March 2012.

Hollande's remarks came after Malian President Dioncounda Traore made a request to UN Security Council and Hollande, seeking for military aid from France countering the military movements and attacks by terrorist and extremist groups.

The UN Security Council had agreed last month to authorize the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), with 3,300 soldiers deployed, to support the African country in its fight against terrorists and armed rebel groups.

Latest reports showed that Mali's rebel groups had controlled the northern half of the country and are heading south. They have captured the strategic city of Konna, a central town of 50,000 people some 700 km northeast of capital Bamako, putting Mali sovereignty at risk.

The French president said UN Security Council resolutions meant France's action is in accordance with international laws. He confirmed that the French troops' engagement in the military operation in Mali "will last as long as necessary."

French troops fighting alongside Malian government forces have driven back rebels from a strategic central town, halting an advance by the fighters controlling the country's desert north.

France on Friday launched air strikes to help the Malian authorities regain control over the town of Konna, captured by al-Qaeda-linked rebel alliance a day earlier.

 

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