France sends up to 2,500 troops in Mali, will stay as long as necessary

Jan 16, 2013 12:00 AM

French President François Hollande announced that at least 2,500 French troops will be sent to Mali within the framework of the military assistance operation which started on January 11 at the request of the President of Mali, Dioncounda Traore, and in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. Hollande reminded that "France has no special interest in this operation other than to protect a friendly country and no goal other than to fight terrorism."

He reiterated his determination to carry out the operation "as long as necessary." Operation Serval, named after the African wild cat species, is to eradicate the Islamic militant rebellion which has spread rapidly for the last six months throughout the north of Mali, an area that is larger than France itself.

In the meantime, President Hollande acknowledged that the rescue operation in Somalia was unsuccessful, "despite the sacrifice of two of our soldiers," and very likely resulted in the murder of hostage Denis Allex, an agent with the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), the French foreign intelligence service.

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