France sends more troops to Mali as UN backs intervention

French soldiers from the French Navy Infantry Regiment after arriving in Bamako, Mali Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

British military personnel could be sent to Mali to support its forces in their battle with Islamists linked to al-Qaeda.

Hollande, who arrived early on Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates, added that overnight strikes in Mali had “achieved their objective”.

“For now, we have 750 men and the number will increase,” Hollande said during a visit to his country’s only military base in the region – Peace Camp in Abu Dhabi.

“New strikes overnight achieved their goal,” he added.

A meeting of the 15-nation UN Security Council on Mali expressed unanimous “understanding and support” for the military intervention, France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters late on Monday.

The United Nations also said more than 30,000 people had fled the fighting and accused the Islamists of stopping thousands of them from travelling south into government-held zones.

Hollande arrived in the UAE on a long-planned trade mission, but his aides have insisted he will be kept fully informed of developments in Mali.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, originally scheduled to be part of the high-powered delegation, stayed in Paris.

French jets on Monday hit Douentza, 500 miles from the capital Bamako. Residents of the town, which the Islamists have held since September, said the fighters had left before the warplanes arrived.

The jihadists have imposed a brutal version of Islamic law in the north for nearly 10 months.

In Timbuktu, where residents have been executed or had limbs cut off in some of the worst abuses, they said the Islamists had fled in anticipation of an attack.


The Telegraph has the full article

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