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France to send additional troops to Mali

  |   Jan. 15, 2013 at 7:59 AM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- France will send nearly 2,000 additional troops to Mali to assist the country's army until African troops arrive, President Francois Hollande said Tuesday.

During a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Hollande estimated it would take African troops a "good week" to arrive in Mali to help the country's army combat al Qaida-linked rebels, the Financial Times reported.

France has carried out four days of bombing against the well-armed Islamists in Mali's north at the request of the Mali government. The French intervention was prompted by a rebel advance last week and growing fear that Mali has become a haven for terrorists.

Euronews.net reported Tuesday that militant Islamists have fled from several towns they had occupied in the north.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expects Gulf states to assist with the operation to oust the Islamic rebels. A donor meeting for the Mali campaign will be held at the end of the month.

The United States, Canada, Denmark, Germany and Belgium all offered logistical support for France's military operation following a Monday night meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Denmark's Parliament scheduled a vote Tuesday on plans to send a Danish D-130 Hercules transport plane with a crew of 40 to Mali for three months, The Copenhagen Post reported.

The Danish foreign ministry stressed that the crew would only be assisting in logistical operations and would not engage in combat.

Some 3,300 West African troops are needed for a planned ground offensive so it is unlikely the additional French forces will head directly into battle, observers said.

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