France deployed Mirage fighter jets to bomb Islamist militants in Mali in an action authorized by the United Nations (UN) and backed up by a coalition of African nations. France is also receiving logistical support from the United States (US) and the United Kingdom(UK).
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said:
There were (airstrikes) last night, there are now and there will be today and tomorrow … We will continue in order to make (Islamist fighters) retreat and allow Malian and African forces to go forward and re-establish the territorial integrity of the country.
A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) commissioned force of 3,300 African troops are expected to arrive in Mali today to assist in retaking control of the land lost to the Islamist rebels since the fall of President Toure.
Since taking control of the north, the Islamist rebels have destroyed cultural relics deemed heretical by their virulently intolerant interpretation of Islam which includes routine floggings, amputations, and executions of people under their control.
French President Francois Hollande stressed the sole purpose of the military action in Mali was to counter terrorist advances in that country. The terrorists seized control after democratically-elected President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown in a March 22, 2012 coup. The Islamists control an area in the north of Mali roughly equivalent in size to the nation of France.
They have reportedly armed themselves with weapons abandoned by the Malian army as well as arms from former Libyan President leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime which have poured over the border between the two countries since the collapse of his regime in 2011.