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Victoire? France drives back Mali Islamists from central Mali

Posted By AIM Newswire On January 22, 2013 @ 6:30 am In AIM Newswire | No Comments

DIABALY, Mali — Yesterday, French and Malian government troops were able to push back the aggressive Malian Islamists from the center of the country. The key cities of Diabaly and Douentza were retaken on Monday from Islamist forces under pressure of superior weaponry and air support.

France in Mali [1]This is an extreme reversal of fortune for the impoverished former French colony of Mali, which in the past 10 months nearly fell to the Islamist forces allied with al-Qaeda. The campaign to take back the central desert region, where Diabaly is a key city center, was declared a success by France.

Diabaly is about 220 miles north of the capital of Bamako, while Douentza is northeast of the capital, but sits along the major road to the Islamist stronghold of Gao. The rebels have since abandoned their abrasive and boastful rhetoric, retreated from these seized cities, and have since melted into the population to avoid devastating French air strikes.

France has deployed about 2,000 troops to Mali and will be joined by a contingent of West African troops from a 15-member bloc called ECOWAS. Their mission has been approved by the United Nations and is still being mobilized. British, German and American resources are also at France’s disposal during this anti-Islamist operation.

Adding more pressure, the recent hostage situation in the In Amenas, Algeria gas facility has ended. Initially, Islamist militants seized the gas facility and up to 800 gas workers, most of whom were Western nationals. The hostage takers wanted to take the hostages back to Mali and demand that France withdraw from Mali. The Algerian military quickly swept in and eliminated the threat, but left up to 37 hostages dead but captured 3 militants. The dead hostages were nationals from Japan, Norway, Great Britain, the U.S. and a variety of other Western nations.

Now, it seems, France is in it for the long haul, until the African contingent can organize and take control of the operation.

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