US to Step Up Aid to Mali Campaign

French-led mission will get US drones, airlifts, but no troops

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2013 4:04 AM CST

(Newser) – The US is planning to step up its support for France's campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali, reports the Los Angeles Times. The US military, which is already providing the French with intelligence help, plans to help move hundreds more French troops to the African country and officials say it also plans to send surveillance drones and help refuel French jets. Troops from other African nations will soon join the fight, but there are no plans to commit American troops to the conflict.

  • The US "has a responsibility to make sure that al-Qaeda does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters yesterday, adding that while militants linked to Mali rebels may not have immediate plans to attack the US, that still remains their objective, Bloomberg reports.
  • After a UN Security Council meeting yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the French intervention, reports Reuters. West African defense chiefs will meet in Mali's capital, Bamako, today to discuss speeding up their contributions to the fight.
  • The town of Diabaly, seized by rebels yesterday, was pounded by French bombs all night, the AP reports. A convoy of up to 50 trucks carrying French troops arrived from the Ivory Coast in preparation for a possible land assault against the rebels. French President Francois Hollande told reporters that with the help of African troops, "I think that in one more week we can restore Mali's territorial integrity."

Volunteers donate blood at the International Conference Center in Bamako, Mali, to support Mali's army in their fight against al-Qaeda linked militants controlling the country's north.
Volunteers donate blood at the International Conference Center in Bamako, Mali, to support Mali's army in their fight against al-Qaeda linked militants controlling the country's north.   (AP Photo)
Malian soldiers drive in the direction of the rebel-held town of Diabaly.
Malian soldiers drive in the direction of the rebel-held town of Diabaly.   (AP Photo/Harouna Traore)
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