London, 18 Rabiul Awwal 1434 H/29 January 2013 (MINA) – The British government is considering deploying about 200 troops to Mali to reinforce the French war in the West African country, reports say.
Prime Minister David Cameron called French President Francois Hollande on Sunday, and told him that Britain was “keen” to provide further military assistance to the French forces in Mali.
A small number of the troopers would be sent to Mali itself to help the ruling junta in the battle against local fighters, while a large number of them would provide training for the West African forces in the region, British media said on Tuesday.
Britain has already sent two transport planes and a high-altitude surveillance aircraft to aid the French war in Mali, where some 3,000 French forces have so far been deployed, according to PressTV reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Tuesday.
Meanwhile, reports said that French-led forces took control of the access points to the Malian desert town of Timbuktu on Monday as they continued advancing further across the north of the country.
On Sunday, the French-led troopers took control of the Timbuktu airport. French troops and Malian forces seized the town of Gao on Saturday after French warplanes and helicopters bombed areas in and around the town.
At least 12 civilians have also been killed and more than a dozen others injured in a French air raid on the town of Konna.
Thousands of people in Mali have been forced to flee their homes amid the French war.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that more than 5,000 Malian refugees have arrived in Mauritania alone since January 11, when France launched the war under the pretext of halting the advance of the fighters in the African country.
The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark have voiced support for the French war.
Analysts believe that behind the military campaign are Mali’s untapped resources, including oil, gold, as well as the uranium in the region.(T/P05/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)