France’s campaign to topple the Malian insurgents who have seized control of a large portion of the country has entered the ground phase of the military campaign with French troops clashing with Islamist rebels today according to Malian and French authorities.

About 40 French special forces troops dropped into central Mali to provide spot guidance for French bombers targeting the area. Upon rendezvous with their Malian allies, the French special forces and the Malian troops came upon heavy siege from well-armed militants. In a setback for French forces, Islamist rebels captured the small town of Diabaly as well as a nearby Malian base on Monday. This is in spite of a heavy aerial bombing by planes and helicopter gunships.

What do we plan to do with the terrorists? Destroy them. Capture them, if possible, and make sure that they can do no harm in the future.

French President François Hollande

 

[New York Times]