France: US, UK back Mali intervention

Armed men patrol the streets of a city in northern Mali. (File photo)

France’s foreign minister says the US and Britain are providing support for the French-led military intervention in Mali amid clashes in the West African country.

Laurent Fabius made the announcement on Sunday, saying “We have the support of the Americans for communications and transport.”

The minister added that Britain, Denmark, and other European nations are also supporting the French-led military intervention in the country.

The announcement comes a day after that Washington offered to send drones to Mali as it has already declared its backing of moves against rebels in the African nation.

US commanders were further considering other options such as “providing intelligence and aerial refueling tankers” as well as “logistical backup and boosting intelligence sharing” involving its surveillance drones, AFP reported, quoting an unnamed US official that spoke on condition of anonymity.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has also approved to deploy aircraft to help transport troopers.

Earlier in the day, French jets and combat helicopters targeted the northern city of Gao, which had been controlled by the rebels.

The French Defense Ministry said in a statement that “French fighter jets have identified and destroyed this Sunday, Jan. 13, numerous targets in northern Mali near Gao, in particular training camps, infrastructure, and logistical depots” that served as bases for rebels.

According to the residents of Gao, its airport was among the targets of the airstrikes.

This comes three days after France took military action in Mali to halt advances made by the rebels, who control the north of the West African country.

On Friday, the Malian Army said it has driven back militants from the town of Konna after France intervened with airstrikes to halt advances by fighters.

Unrest erupted in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they had mounted the coup in response to the government’s failure to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.