Monday, January 14, 2013

U.S. Military To Become More Deeply Involved In Malian War via Stop NATO

via Stop NATO

Stars and Stripes
January 14, 2013

U.S. military could be drawn into Mali fight
By Leo Shane III 


Malian and U.S. special forces troops in Mali in 2010 during Operation Flintlock

WASHINGTON: The U.S. military could be drawn into the intensifying fight in the African country of Mali…

French President Francois Hollande deployed 550 French troops to Mali and authorized the airstrikes, which began Friday. Britain over the weekend authorized sending several C-17 transport planes to help France bring more troops.

In a statement Monday, Defense Department officials said that France “can count on U.S. support.”

Air Force Maj. Robert Firman, a spokesman for the department, added that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has reiterated his concern over the situation in Mali and promised that “we will support the French…”

Panetta, traveling in Europe this week, told reporters that the military is also providing intelligence-gathering assistance to French forces.

MSNBC reported Monday that the White House is planning to announce increased U.S. military support for the French fighters later this week…

The NATO alliance “is not involved in this crisis,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu. “But of course the situation in Mali is of grave concern to all of us…”

The Associated Press also reported over the weekend that French radio broadcast a taunting telephone interview with Omar Ould Hamaha, a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, which controls part of northern Mali, promising more retribution against France.

“France has opened the gates of hell,” he said. “It has fallen into a trap much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia.”

Last week, the associated press reported, French officials decided for immediate military intervention after spotting a pair of rebel convoys advancing south towards Bamako.

Also over the weekend, the French government has ordered the evacuation of all French nationals living in Segou, located just 150 miles from the Malian capital.

Reporter Matt Millham contributed to this story.

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