Arab Today, arab today france launches major offensive on mali islamists
Last Updated : GMT 07:36:19
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

France launches major offensive on Mali Islamists

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today France launches major offensive on Mali Islamists

Gao - AFP

A French force of 1,000 soldiers in a major offensive has swept a valley thought to be a logistics base for Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists near the Malian city of Gao, an AFP journalist accompanying the mission reported. Operation Gustav, one of France\'s largest actions since its intervention in its former colony, involves dozens of tanks, helicopters and aircraft, said General Bernard Barrera, commander of the French land forces in Mali, on Monday. \"We surrounded the valley north of Gao, which we believe serves as a logistics base for jihadist groups, and we began to search methodically,\" said Barrera, who is based in Gao, the largest settlement in northeastern Mali. The city, 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) from the capital Bamako, was a stronghold of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the Islamist militias which occupied the north until French-led forces dislodged them in January. It suffered the first suicide bombings in Mali\'s history in February and has been the scene of deadly clashes between French-Malian forces and jihadists over the last two weeks.No Islamist fighters were encountered on the first day of Operation Gustav, launched at dawn on Sunday, but troops said they neutralised around 340 artillery shells and high-calibre rockets and destroyed a Toyota pick-up truck. All access points to the valley were shut off and its ridges secured at 6:00 am (local and GMT) on Sunday. France\'s 3rd Mechanised Brigade later began the excavation of a thick forest where military intelligence suspects a jihadist base may be hidden. French soldiers will spend the coming days combing the 20-kilometre (12-mile) valley with the help of Malian soldiers and police officers going into the nomad camps and mud houses which line the dry river basin. \"This is the fourth wadi we have gone into in the Gao region. There will no doubt be other such operations but perhaps not to the same extent,\" Barrera said. Ethnic Tuareg rebels seized the country\'s vast arid north in the chaos following a coup in Bamako in March 2012 before losing control to well-armed Islamists. A French-led intervention quickly drove insurgents from most of their northern strongholds, but significant pockets of resistance remain in Gao, as well as in the fabled desert city of Timbuktu. \"We have defeated the jihadist groups further north in the Ifoghas (mountains). There are none there anymore,\" Barrera told reporters.\"We are now operating in north-central Mali, to break the enemy by denying it time to reorganise.\" Listening to audio recordings, flying observation missions and cross-checking with information from witnesses, French intelligence officials have concluded that the forested \"wadi\", or dry river basin, would be perfect for concealing weapons stockpiles. The fighters themselves, whom France believes were present just days ago, may have moved to another valley, under cover of a sandstorm that raged the previous two days. Colonel Bruno Bert, who is commanding the mission, warned against complacency. \"Many times these guys have hidden themselves for hours just a few metres away from us, and then suddenly stood up and opened fire,\" he said. \"This isn\'t over. This valley is big, with many secondary wadis. We will take however long we need to complete the search.\" On Sunday night tanks stationed on ridges trained their night vision instruments on the valley floor while aircraft with thermal cameras patrolled the skies to ensure that militants could not escape under the cloak of darkness. France is to start withdrawing its 4,000 troops from Mali at the end of April, and plans to leave a \"support force\" of 1,000 soldiers after elections promised for July. Ministers from member states of the west African franc zone heard at a seminar in the Senegalese capital Dakar on Monday that the Malian economy shrank by 1.2 percent in 2012 because of the crisis. French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici confirmed that a donor conference co-chaired by the European Commission and France would be held in Brussels on May 15 to raise cash to \"repair the damage caused by the war\". The war in Mali has also heightened fears that the conflict could spill over into other countries around the Sahel. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday issued an urgent call to reach an agreement between the independence movement and Morocco over Western Sahara. \"The rise of instability and insecurity in and around the Sahel requires an urgent settlement of this long-standing dispute,\" Ban said in a report to the UN Security Council. \"All governments consulted raised serious concerns over the risk that the fighting in Mali could spill over into neighbouring countries and contribute to radicalizing the Western Saharan refugee camps,\" Ban said.

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today france launches major offensive on mali islamists Arab Today, arab today france launches major offensive on mali islamists

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Jordan airline suggests flyers 'talk'

GMT 11:59 2017 Friday ,24 March

Jordan airline suggests flyers 'talk'
Arab Today, arab today 5 Crafty Must-Have Limited-Budget Ideas

GMT 17:03 2017 Saturday ,25 March

5 Crafty Must-Have Limited-Budget Ideas
Arab Today, arab today Dozens dead in US-led Syria strikes

GMT 08:35 2017 Thursday ,23 March

Dozens dead in US-led Syria strikes
Arab Today, arab today Former head of Egypt’s syndicate submits appeal

GMT 20:11 2017 Saturday ,25 March

Former head of Egypt’s syndicate submits appeal
View News in Arabic - Country: أخبار المدن
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Yemen children dream of school

GMT 07:25 2017 Friday ,24 March

Yemen children dream of school
Arab Today, arab today MP submits a petition to dismiss university head

GMT 06:21 2017 Friday ,24 March

MP submits a petition to dismiss university head
Arab Today, arab today Salvage of South Korea's Sewol ferry

GMT 04:51 2017 Friday ,24 March

Salvage of South Korea's Sewol ferry
Arab Today, arab today Prepares to give stargazers an eyeful

GMT 13:38 2017 Monday ,06 March

Prepares to give stargazers an eyeful
Arab Today, arab today Audi RS 5 Coupe acquires new design

GMT 13:22 2017 Thursday ,23 March

Audi RS 5 Coupe acquires new design
Arab Today, arab today Renault Trezor wins design award

GMT 11:56 2017 Tuesday ,21 March

Renault Trezor wins design award
Arab Today, arab today Actress Mervat Amin reveals her role in new series
Arab Today, arab today 2017 already marked

GMT 15:25 2017 Tuesday ,21 March

2017 already marked

GMT 06:04 2017 Thursday ,23 March

Haifa Wahby bets on her new drama show

GMT 22:00 2017 Thursday ,23 March

Number of unwedded girls amounts to 2.5m

GMT 18:57 2017 Tuesday ,21 March

Accessories designer reveals her new collection

GMT 10:34 2017 Tuesday ,21 March

Mexico threatens to ditch US corn imports

GMT 13:26 2017 Friday ,24 February

Expresses Algerian history by woody figures

GMT 15:06 2017 Saturday ,25 March

Dialysis Supplies Dwindle for Syrians

GMT 07:36 2017 Wednesday ,22 March

US, Britain ban laptops on flights

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 19:27 2017 Saturday ,11 March

Boualsof launches "Priestess Kahina" collection
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday