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Mali First RAF Aircraft Lands With Supplies
 Part of channel(s): French Airstrikes in Mali (current event)

An RAF plane lands in Mali to help France fight against al Qaeda-backed
rebels, but the UK says it has no plans for ground troops.An RAF
transport aircraft loaded with French armoured vehicles has touched down
in conflict-stricken Mali to help the fight against Islamist
rebels.French forces have been carrying out air attacks on the al
Qaeda-backed rebels in the West African state in recent days.The UK has
offered two C-17 Globemaster transport planes to help out, but the
Foreign Office has said there are no plans to deploy British ground
forces.The National Security Council will meet in London later but
ministers insist the UK is only providing "limited logistical support".
One aircraft has already landed and a second C-17 is due to leave
shortly after suffering a "minor technical fault" in Paris.Speaking in
Abu Dhabi, French President Francois Hollande told Sky News: "We have
obtained results. We have a goal, it's very simple; to obtain the
withdrawal of terrorists and to push them abroad."We want the African
(countries') armies to come as soon as possible to take their place. I
know that the British government is behind us."He had earlier said
French forces carried out further air strikes overnight in Mali "which
hit their targets"."For now, we have 750 men and the number will
increase so that as soon as possible we can leave the place to the
African forces," he said.Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds said the
situation in Mali is a "grave concern" to the UK due to fears the
rebel-held north could become a springboard for extremism". But he
stressed that David Cameron had offered only limited back-up support to
Mr Hollande."The Prime Minister has made categorically clear that the
initial supporting deployment will be for a period of one week," he told
the Commons.
"He has also made clear that there will be no combat
troops from the UK involved and we have no plans to provide more
military assistance."The US is also providing intelligence-gathering
assistance to the French and the UN has now backed the military
action.The Security Council expressed unanimous "understanding and
support" for military intervention, according to France's UN ambassador
Gerard Araud.The UN says more than 30,000 people have fled the fighting
and accused the Islamists of stopping thousands of them from travelling
south to government-held zones.The Mali government appealed for France's
help last week when the rebels began moving south.
Hundreds of
French troops were deployed after the rebels overran the strategically
important town of Konna - about halfway between Mali's northern and
southern borders - on Thursday.Thousands of African troops are also
expected in Mali, to support local and French forces in their fight
against the rebelsOn Sunday, French forces forced back Islamists from
the strategic town of Konna.But there was a setback when government
forces lost the garrison village of Diabaly in central Mali, taking the
rebels within 250 miles of Bamako.Up to 60 Islamists are reported to
have been killed in air assaults on Sunday, which were centred around
Gao and Kidal.Former foreign office minister Peter Hain has expressed
scepticism at predictions by the French that their troops would be out
of the country "in a matter of weeks"."That seems to me pretty
unlikely," he said. "This could become an incredibly long, drawn-out and
difficult morass."EU foreign ministers are to hold an extraordinary
meeting this week, probably on Thursday, to discuss the situation.

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Added: Jan-15-2013 Occurred On: Jan-15-2013
By: CptSpaulding
In:
Other Middle East
Tags: French, Airstrikes, in, Mali
Location: Mali (load item map)
Views: 1932 | Comments: 13 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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