France launches ground attack on Mali

French troops have launched the first ground attack against rebel forces in Mali, a report says.

The attack was carried out on Tuesday after French warplanes heavily bombed the strongholds of the Malian opposition forces.

The ground attack came as France initiated its military operation in Mali on January 12 under the pretext of halting the advance of the rebels, who control the northern parts of the West African country.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of the European Union are set to attend an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the deployment of a training mission for the Malian army.

Malian and French forces were also reportedly driving toward the town of Diabaly in central Mali. Rebels managed to take control of the town on January 14, when a NATO spokesman stated that the alliance would support France’s operations in Mali.

The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany and Denmark have already said they would support the French operation against Mali.

Chaos broke out in the African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.

However, in the wake of the coup, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region.