The U.N. Security Council last week reviewed a request from members of the Economic Community of West African States to intervene militarily in Mali.
Rebels, some of whom are tied to al-Qaida, declared autonomy for the northern part of the country shortly after a military coup early this year. Al-Qaida militants have since started destroying historic sites in Timbuktu that are viewed out of line with their conservative brand of Islam.
Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters during his regular news briefing Washington is concerned about the security vacuum in Mali.
He noted the Security Council is seeking more information from ECOWAS on the details of the mission.
"So there are options still on the table," he said. "Decisions haven't been made and I don't want to get ahead of the process."
Jeremy Keenan, a researcher at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, told the U.N. humanitarian news service IRIN any military intervention in Mali would be "very messy" without the support of Western countries.
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