January 17, 2013: France is sending at least 2,500 combat troops to Mali immediately and has asked other NATO members to help out. Britain and the U.S. have offered logistical support. Both nations have a lot of large air transports in the area. The U.S. may also provide combat troops, as there are American UAVs and Special Forces in the region. Thousands of U.S. and French special operations troops have worked together in Djibouti (northeast Africa) for over a decade. These are available for use in Mali, and France has already moved several hundred troops in from neighboring Ivory Coast (where France has been active in peacekeeping for over a decade but are not needed there much these days). The U.S. has made it clear that it wants the Islamic terrorist groups out of Mali and North Africa in general.
Other nations in the region have agreed to send in over 3,000 troops but they are not coming in right away. The African troops are not trained and equipped for operations outside their country like many Western forces are. Now it looks like Western troops will do most of the attacking, with African troops mostly on defense.
January 16, 2013: French and Mali troops have surrounded the town of Diabaly.
In eastern Algeria, on the Libyan border, over a dozen armed men from a breakaway faction of
AQIM (al Qaeda's North African wing) attacked a natural gas drilling and pumping operation. The first attack, against a bus carrying people to work at the Amenas gas field, was repulsed by the security escort. A Briton and an Algerian were killed in that fight. The terrorists then went to a housing area and took about 40 foreigners hostage (including seven Americans and two Britons). At that point security forces had surrounded the area. The terrorists demanded transportation and safe passage out of the country for themselves and their hostages and the release of a hundred Islamic terrorists being held in Algerian prisons. The Algerians refused this and prepared to negotiate an end to the standoff. The terrorists are also demanding that France stop attacking Islamic terrorist forces in Mali. That demand was also ignored. This siege will probably end badly as Islamic terrorists are not just eager to kill, they are also enthusiastic about dying.
January 15, 2013: France announced that it was going to clear the Islamic terrorists out of Mali and this would be done quickly, at least in southern Mali. In the desert north, France expects to get some help from the locals (including the rebellious Tuareg who started the rebellion a year ago), who are known to be unhappy with the harsh religious rules imposed by the al Qaeda fanatics. France is apparently depending on the Americans coming through with their aerial and satellite photo and electronic reconnaissance capabilities. While European nations are building up these capabilities, the U.S. again demonstrated in Libya two years ago that if you really want to keep an eye on a large battle zone, you need the Americans, especially the U.S. Air Force.
January 14, 2013: A column of Islamic terrorists moved south again, going around the government troops concentrated in Mopti and seizing the town of Diabaly (population about a thousand) and a nearby military base. This is all about 350 kilometers north of the capital. There are now over a hundred armed men in the town. Local police and soldiers fled and civilians have been told to act normally or else. The terrorists are mainly staying inside houses they have taken over. They move about in small groups to avoid detection and attack from the air. Most of these guys are foreigners and some apparently have experience with missile armed UAVs and aircraft using smart bombs. Civilians are not being allowed to leave town and are being used as human shields against the coming French led counterattack. Some residents are sneaking out of town anyway because there are not enough terrorists to patrol the entire place constantly, but plenty of civilians will still be available as human shields. Despite that, French warplanes dropped smart bombs on Diabaly today and kept at it in the days after. The Islamic terrorists in Diabaly boasted that they would inflict heavy casualties on French ground troops. It is believed that these terrorists were from those driven out of Konna, a village north of Mopti
The U.S. announced that it was sharing intelligence with French troops in Mali and implied that more American intelligence gathering and reconnaissance aircraft would be sent to operate over Mali.
January 13, 2013: Algeria revealed that it had given France permission to fly combat aircraft over Algeria to Mali. That helped increase the smart bomb attacks on the city of Gao in northern Mali. Apparently the terrorists were caught by surprise because they suffered many casualties and most of the survivors fled the city. But the terrorists also cut all landline and cell phone connections between Gao and the outside world, to make it difficult for residents to provide information to advancing Mali and French troops. That advance has not begun yet and will have to deal with the Islamic terrorists now out in the countryside and looking to ambush the vehicles of the advancing troops.
Tuareg rebels who split with the Islamic terrorist groups in Mali announced that they are now allied with the French and will help liberate Gao. Many of these Tuareg tribesmen are based just across the Niger River from Gao, in Niger (the country).
January 12, 2013: In France the government ordered tighter security around major government buildings and increased alertness to Islamic terrorist threats. Al Qaeda has called for attacks inside France in retaliation for French military operations against Islamic terrorists in Mali.
January 11, 2013: France began bombing Islamic terrorist targets in northern Mali, initially using warplanes based in Mali but later joined by ones operating from France. Aircraft have since been reported flying multiple recon missions over Timbuktu and Gao, the largest cities in the north and where most of the Islamic terrorists groups up there live.
January 10, 2013: Rebels advanced and captured the town of Konna, which is 60 kilometers north of Mopti, on the road into southern Mali. Losing Konna prompted France to start using its fighter-bombers in Mali to bomb Islamic terrorists north of Mopti. This caused some of the Islamic terrorists to flee and some are believed to have gone southwest and later seized Diabaly. This was a suicidal move, but that’s how al Qaeda rolls. Meanwhile, Malian troops were unable to force all the remaining Islamic terrorists from Konna. This failure apparently played a large role in France deciding to use its armed forces to attack the Islamic terrorists. France had been planning on waiting until an African peacekeeping force was trained and ready to go later this year. Malian troops were also to receive training, and the failure at Konna shows that this is still needed.