Responding to an urgent plea for help from the Malian government, French troops carried out airstrikes against Islamist fighters, blunting an advance by hundreds of heavily armed extremists, according to French officials and Gen. Carter F. Ham, the top American military commander in Africa. One French helicopter had apparently been downed in the fighting, he said. “French forces brought their support this afternoon to Malian Army units to fight against terrorist elements,” President François Hollande of France said in a statement to reporters in Paris on Friday, noting that the operation would “last as long as necessary.” France has a long history of expeditionary military actions in its former African colonies. Mr. Hollande had said that France would not send troops into combat in Mali until Friday, when it seemed that the government in Bamako might collapse. But the French had positioned military contingents near Mali, with deployments in Senegal, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast, for example. There were also persistent reports that French special forces were in Mali.Islamists in Timbuktu and other northern cities have imposed strict Sharia Law, including requiring all women to wear burkas, outlawing alcohol and gambling, killing homosexuals, and publicly whipping any men or women found together in public.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
France intervenes in Mali: Some early success against Islamists
From Eric Dondero: The United States has been reluctant to intervene to stop the killings and oppression in Mali, as Islamists have taken over half the country in the last year. Most recently, Islamists took over a town on the frontier dividing them from Mali government troops, which prompted the French to intervene. From the NY Times, "France Battling Islamists in Mali":