25-05-2020 08:05 AM Jerusalem Timing

French Air Strikes Continue in Mali

French Air Strikes Continue in Mali

France said on Sunday that the air strikes against militants in central Mali were continuing for a third day, warning there would be no let-up until the gunmen retreat.

France said on Sunday that the air strikes against militants in central Mali were continuing for a third day, warning there would be no let-up until the gunmen retreat.Air strikes

"There are raids all the time," Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with several television and radio stations.
"There were (air strikes) last night, there are now and there will be today and tomorrow," Le Drian said.

The defense minister said the objective was to force the Islamists, who have controlled northern Mali since April 2012, to retreat from territory in the center of the country which they seized last week.

The Islamists' advance triggered concern about a possible assault on the capital Bamako and pushed France into an intervention that has been backed by its European allies, the United States and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

French air power helped the Malian army to retake the central town of Konna from the Islamists on Friday and President Francois Hollande said Saturday that the militants had suffered heavy losses, estimated at 100 of their fighters.
One French pilot and 11 Malian soldiers have been killed in the clashes so far.

Human Rights Watch reported at least 10 civilian deaths on Saturday.
France has said its intervention is ‘legitimate’ under international law and will be limited to helping the Malian army force the militants to retreat to the north.

"Our intervention is ongoing and we will continue in order to make them retreat and allow Malian and African forces to go forward and re-establish the territorial integrity of the country," Le Drian said.

TOP MILITANTS REPORTED KILLED
The first troops promised by African nations were expected in Mali on Sunday to join the campaign.
Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal on Saturday each pledged 500 troops for an African-led intervention force.

Also Sunday a security source said a lieutenant of Ansar Dine chief Iyad Ag Ghaly was killed in fighting to recapture the central town of Konna from the rebels.
"The Islamist fighters suffered a real setback with the death of Abdel 'Kojak' Krim," the source said.