News / Africa

French Troops Arriving Ready for Action in Mali

French soldiers from the 2nd RIMA (French Navy Infantry Regiment), arriving from France, prepare at the 101 military airbase near Bamako, January 14, 2013.
French soldiers from the 2nd RIMA (French Navy Infantry Regiment), arriving from France, prepare at the 101 military airbase near Bamako, January 14, 2013.
Anne Look
French forces are preparing for a possible ground assault in Mali against al-Qaida-linked rebels who have continued to push south despite five days of French aerial bombardments. 

France has put 800 soldiers on the ground in Mali since it began its rapid deployment Friday at the request of the Malian government.

The plan is to deploy 1,600 French soldiers in the short term and bring that number up to 2,500 in coming weeks.

About 100 vehicles, including tanks and armored vehicles, arrived overland from Ivory Coast early Tuesday morning.  Other French troops are coming from Chad and France.

French soldiers from the 1st company, 2nd regiment of Marines, continued preparations Tuesday for an eventual deployment from their base just outside the Bamako airport.   

The head of the company, whose last name is withheld for security reasons, said they are ready for whatever mission is thrown at them.

Captain Gregory says they are there to work in concert with the Malian military.  He says for now, the company is building its strength - troops continue to arrive and they are preparing their gear. He says they will be ready to head out when they have their orders.

The captain says recent events have shown them that the "enemy is ready to fight and we should not underestimate them."

A military spokesman said the French soldiers being deployed to Mali are experienced.  Many have already fought in Afghanistan, Lebanon or Ivory Coast.

The al-Qaida-linked rebel groups in northern Mali who launched their offensive south last week are proving difficult to rout, in particular in the central west part of the country.  

The heavily armed rebels swept around the Mauritanian border Monday and captured the town of Diabaly, around 400 kilometers from Bamako.  French airstrikes continued throughout the night, but residents told VOA Tuesday that the Islamists still hold the town.

VOA spoke to a Diabaly resident who said the Islamists are not threatening the population.  He said he saw the bodies of some dead Malian soldiers, but it is unclear what happened to the rest who were stationed in the town.  

Islamist rebels seized the northern half of Mali in April following a military coup in the south that further weakened an already ill-equipped and demoralized Malian army.

The U.N. Security Council has called on West African regional bloc ECOWAS to accelerate plans to send regional troops to fight alongside the Malian army.

ECOWAS defense chiefs of staff are in Bamako Tuesday to finalize plans to deploy as many as 3,300 soldiers to Mali in coming days and weeks.  Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso are among the countries that have pledged troops.

Nigerian Major General Shehu Abdulkadir will command the regional force.

"This is a battle situation, and it requires a lot of planning, a lot of thinking because a lot of logistics is required.  And unless and until the planning is done properly, the mission will fail," he said. "The operation may fail, and we don't want to fail in this case.  Therefore, we are not late.  It is rather late, than never.  Which one would you prefer?  That we come in in a haste and don't get the mission accomplished.  Or we do proper planning and come in equipped."

French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday that with the help of the African troops, they are confident of victory.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More