In Mali's desert village of Diabaly, French and Malian troops have expanded their ground operations in their battle against Islamic militants, the Washington Post reports. Today's confrontations represent the first direct engagement since France launched a military assault last week.
"Our troops and the French soldiers are fighting the militants and trying to push them out of Diabaly" said a Malian colonel with direct knowledge of the operations. "We are carrying out offensive operations on the ground."
The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian announced Thursday in Paris that the French military contingent in Mali has grown to 1, 400 from 600 a day earlier. He said the fighting has been continuing since Wednesday.
"The actions of French forces, be it air forces or ground forces, are ongoing," said Le Drian. "They took place yesterday; they took place last night; they took place today; they will take place tomorrow." But Le Drian gave no indication whether the fighting was occurring in other areas aside from Diabaly and who was involved …
In what could be a taste of things to come, former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing warned President Francois Hollande on Wednesday against letting the French intervention evolve into a "neocolonialist" type of action. "France should limit itself strictly to its logistical support to African forces," he told the newspaper Le Monde.
Read more at the Washington Post.