France increases troop deployment to Mali



ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published — Thursday 17 January 2013

Last update 17 January 2013 11:38 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BAMAKO, Mali: After a punishing bombing campaign failed to halt the advance of Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, France pledged yesterday to send hundreds more troops into Mali as it prepared for a land assault to dislodge the militants occupying the northern half of the country.
The move reversed France’s earlier insistence on providing only aerial and logistical support for a military intervention lead by African ground troops.
France plunged headfirst into the conflict in its former colony last week, bombarding the insurgents’ desert stronghold in an effort to shatter the militant’s domination of a region many fear could become a launching pad for terrorist attacks on the West and a base for coordination with Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
But despite five days of airstrikes, the rebels have extended their reach, taking over a strategically important military camp in the central Malian town of Diabaly on Monday.
On Tuesday, France announced it was tripling the number of soldiers in Mali from 800 to 2,500. The offensive was to have been led by thousands of African troops pledged by Mali’s neighbors, but they have yet to arrive, making it increasingly apparent that France will be leading the attack and not playing a supporting role.
French President Francois Hollande told RFI radio early Tuesday that he believed France could succeed in ousting the extremists in a week. But by afternoon he had outlined a far longer-term commitment.
“We have one objective: To make sure that when we leave, when we end this intervention, there is security in Mali, legitimate leaders, an electoral process and the terrorists no longer threaten its territory,” he said during a stop in the United Arab Emirates.
“We are confident about the speed with which we will be able to stop the aggressors, the enemy, these terrorists,” he added.
Supplies for the French forces arrived in a steady stream Tuesday, part of the enormous logistics operation needed to support thousands of troops in the baking Sahara sun, a terrain the rebels have operated in for nearly a decade.
Transport planes bringing military hardware landed in quick succession on the short airstrip: A giant Antonov, two C-17 Boeings and a C-160 disgorged equipment in preparation for a land offensive to try to seize back the northern territory held since March by a trio of rebel groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
Burly French troops in fatigues carried boxes of munitions as armored personnel carriers lined up at the airport’s gasoline pump. Roughly 40 armored vehicles were driven in overnight by French soldiers stationed in Ivory Coast.
A convoy of French armored cars was spotted late Tuesday heading toward Diabaly, the strategic town seized by the rebels a day earlier, said a resident of the nearby town of Segou, who declined to be named out of fears for her safety.
The rebels appeared to be mostly equipped with Russian-made machine guns and other small arms, said a French army adjutant who gave only his first name, Nicolas, in keeping with military regulations. But, he added, the French force would not underestimate the insurgents. On the first day of the operation, a French helicopter gunship was downed by rebel fire.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Employees of the Education Office in Al-Daer governorate, Jazan, where seven people were gunned down on Thursday are in a state of shock and perplexed as to what prompted the attacker — a teacher — to take such an extreme step.The teacher, id...
JEDDAH: The campaign to support Syrian refugees with all their needs is being carried out effectively, as per the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman....
RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs has ordered the allocation of separate sections for female members of municipal councils.This was announced by Jedaie Al-Qahtani of the ministry. “This is in implementation of Clause 107 of the...
DAMMAM: The 9th Saudi Student Conference which is being held on Feb. 13-14 is sponsored by Umm Al-Qura University and hosted by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. It was organized by the Scientific Society for Saudi Students in the...
RIYADH: Over the past 10 years, begging in the Kingdom has increased substantially, with the number of organized gangs of expatriate beggars increasing to 85 percent of the total number of beggars, according to Social Affairs Ministry Majed Al-Qassab...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health said it expects its blood donation drive will received 450,000 milliliters (ml) of blood when the Janadriyah festival ends on Feb. 19.Khalid Ibrahim Zobaie, who supervises the blood donation project, said the drive is i...
JEDDAH: The Shoura Council’s decision to reduce working hours in the private sector from 48 hours to 40 hours per week would result in additional operational costs in the sector due to 30 percent higher wages for expat workers, according to Mansour b...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman recently visited a number of ongoing developmental project sites in the Holy City, as part of his efforts to ensure that they meet the set standards and deadlines.During the visit, he said that all the s...
RIYADH: The National Guard Ministry is studying the possibility of having two countries as guests of honor each year instead of one at the Janadriyah festival for culture and heritage, the Kingdom’s most prestigious annual festival.This was revealed...
DAMMAM: The Pakistan International School in Alkhobar hosted their 49th annual prize distribution ceremony to honor outstanding students in the presence of Pakistani Ambassador Manzoor Ul Haq and his wife, Nighat Manzoor.Haq appreciated the efforts o...
DAMMAM: The Weaam Association for Family Care in the Eastern Province has succeeded in addressing more than 700 cases of family disputes during the last one year.Abdulrahman Al-Khudair, Weaam’s director of public delations, said: “The association off...
JEDDAH: The Nakheel mall case has continued to grab the limelight, with a number of lawyers now offering their services to the girl who was roughed up by some Haia members in Riyadh. Some people also expressed, through social media, their support to...
RIYADH: Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh inaugurated this week a campaign tosafeguard Saudi society against bad influences.“The campaign seeks to immunize society in the Kingdom from deviant ideas as well as utter lies and heresies that could...
RIYADH: A Filipino nurse who works at a clinic in Riyadh has been missing for a week, her colleagues has said.According to a co-worker at the clinic, the 43-year-old nurse from from Lamitan town in Basilan province, southern Philippines, wa...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Haj will put in place new measures for issuing Umrah visas for pilgrims from outside the country with the coordination of the Saudi embassies abroad, a local newspaper reported.The new measures will be implemented soon, given...

Stay Connected

Facebook