Morning Brief: French fight against rebels in Mali intensifies

From Foreign Policy Thu Jan 17 2013, 13:31:39

French fight against rebels in Mali intensifies

Top news: France's military campaign in Mali intensified on Wednesday as its forces pushed north in an attempt to dislodge Islamist rebel groups, bringing French troops into direct combat with rebels who appear to have dug in and prepared for an extended fight.

Continuing a two-pronged assault with air strikes and a ground assault, French forces alongside Malian troops ringed the town of Diabaly, where militants have spread throughout the population and continued air-strikes have failed to rout the rebels. Fighting to expel the rebels from the city took place for much of the day Wednesday, but as of Thursday morning it appeared the rebels had managed to hold on to the city amid continuing reports of French airstrikes there. Meanwhile, the French army launched strikes against the rebel-held town Konna, whose capture first sparked the French intervention.

In an attack that may confirm French fears of international reprisals in response to its intervention in Mali, a tense hostage crisis has developed in Algeria, where militants struck a BP gas field and took several foreigners hostage, including some Americans. Some 15 to 25 foreigners are said to have escaped, but the standoff between the militants and the Algerian government, which is considering considering inviting an international force, continues unabated.

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