Saturday, January 12, 2013

MALI REBEL ADVANCE HALTED

Combined Air-Ground assault beats back advancing rebel forces


Graphic (C) 2013 reconpresseusa



BAMAKO--French intelligence services had detected preparations for an important offensive organized and coordinated by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, and its jihadist allies, Ansar Dine and MUJAO, against the towns of Mopti and Diabaly. After a large number of vehicles were spotted heading toward the strategic town on Thursday, France sent in its first unit to Sevare, a town adjacent to Mopti, to support the Malian combat forces, Le Drian said.

On Friday, French President Francois Hollande authorized the use of French air power following an appeal from Mali's president. Soon after, French pilots targeted a column of jihadist fighters who were heading down toward Mopti from Konna. He said that the helicopter raid led to the destruction of several units of fighters and stopped their advance toward the city. It was in the course of this battle, that one helicopter was downed, and a French pilot fatally wounded.

Overnight Saturday, air strikes began in the areas where the fighters operate, Le Drian said, led by French forces in Chad, where France has Mirage 2000 and Mirage F1 fighter jets stationed.
The strikes destroyed vehicles in Konna, and a command post in the region. A contingent of French special forces arrived at the Bamako airport on Saturday afternoon in order to secure the capital, said Le Drian, where Islamists claim they have sleeper cells ready to carry out suicide bombings.

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2013/01/ap-french-forces-drive-back-mali-rebels-011213/



 
Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, Mali Army Spokesman
 
 
"We have driven them out, we are effectively in Konna," Malian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Diaran Kone told Reuters. "We don't know if they have planted mines or other traps, so we are moving with caution. There were many deaths on both sides."



FRENCH MARINES IN MALI

Photograph from Sky News at:

http://www.skynews.com.au/elements/img/article/638x359/skynews_835145.jpg

indicates one of the units participating in the Mali action. The emblem on the soldier's sleeve is that of French Marines, as can be verified from the following Wikipedia file below the photo:







The following article is found in the Marine Corps Times:

French forces take fight to Mali Islamists

By Baba Ahmed and Sylvie Corbet - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jan 11, 2013 18:30:50 EST


BAMAKO, Mali — France launched airstrikes Friday to help the government of Mali defeat al-Qaida-linked militants who captured more ground this week, dramatically raising the stakes in the battle for this vast desert nation.
French President Francois Hollande said the "terrorist groups, drug traffickers and extremists" in northern Mali "show a brutality that threatens us all." He vowed that the operation would last "as long as necessary."
France said it was taking the action in Mali at the request of President Dioncounda Traore, who declared a state of emergency because of the militants' advance.

The arrival of the French troops in their former colony came a day after the Islamists moved the closest yet toward territory still under government control and fought the Malian military for the first time in months, seizing the strategic city of Konna.

He did not give any details of the operation, other than to say that it was aimed in part at protecting the 6,000 French citizens in Mali, where seven of them already are being held captive.


MARINES TO MALI:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2013/01/ap-french-military-mali-011113


BAMAKO BURNING!

French have Qaeda on the Run,
British to Join the Fray..




 
LONDON--Downing Street stressed that British troops would not engage in combat in the country, but two transport planes are expected to be deployed within 24-48 hours. A Downing Street spokesman said: 'The Prime Minister spoke to President Hollande this evening to discuss the deteriorating situation in Mali and how the UK can support French military assistance provided to the Malian Government to contain rebel and extremist groups in the north of the country.'

'The Prime Minister has agreed that the UK will provide logistical military assistance to help transport foreign troops and equipment quickly to Mali. 'We will not be deploying any British personnel in a combat role. They also agreed that the peacekeeping mission from West African countries needs to be strongly supported by countries in the region and deployed as quickly as possible.




'Both leaders agreed that the situation in Mali poses a real threat to international security given terrorist activity there.'
The Government's National Security Council is set to discuss the situation in Mali when it meets on Tuesday.
More than 100 people were killed when troops French began their operation in the country on Friday.
Mr Hollande said his troops would target Islamist terrorists in the former French territory for 'as long as necessary', despite the death of a pilot in the attack.
The dramatic intervention coincided with a failed operation, launched only hours before, to free a French hostage being held captive in Somali, during which the hostage and two commandos were killed.



(Reprinted from Daily Mail UK)

FRONTLINE KONNA

 
Air-Ground Assault in the Heart of Jihad Territory!
 
 


KONNA, MALI--

The Malian army, supported by French forces took full control of the city of Konna (center) on Saturday after violent clashes that "a hundred deaths" in the ranks of Islamist fighters from the North, said Staff Mali. French President François Hollande, warmly congratulated by his peers in West Africa and reinforced by Washington, confirmed Friday the French military engagement in Mali Bamako requested by "aggression against terrorist elements, including the world world knows the brutality and fanaticism. " "We have dozens of deaths, even a hundred deaths among Islamists Konna. We control the city completely," he told AFP Fane Ousmane Lieutenant in Mopti (center), marking the boundary region between the north and south.

  A regional security source reported as "at least 46 Islamist" killed, while a resident Konna said he "saw dozens of bodies" of Arab men wearing tunics and turbans. According to the Malian army, the "last pockets of resistance" against were cleaned after the successful attack to reclaim the city and eliminate the offensive jihad. The French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced Saturday that a French officer was fatally injured in a helicopter raid "against a terrorist column" heading Friday to two cities in the southern part of Mali. The raid Friday "has destroyed several terrorist units" and "stopped their progress," said Mr Le Drian. While the military situation was frozen, fighting had resumed this week, some 1,200 Islamist fighters seizing Konna Thursday and threatened to continue their offensive south. Located more than 700 km from Bamako, Thursday Konna fell into the hands of jihadists who occupy more than nine months from northern Mali.


The vast desert region since April 2012 is a sanctuary for Islamist groups, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Ansar Dine and Mujao (Movement for the uniqueness and jihad in West Africa), which ousted the Touareg independence. Attack against the Franco-Malian part Sévaré town 70 km south of Konna, with the largest airport in the region of Mopti, which had landed Thursday French military elements.


Hollande frontline


Following the President of the African Union, Benin Thomas Boni Yayi, President of Mali Acting Dioncounda Traoré thanked François Hollande for Saturday launched Operation called "Wolverine" and made with him a "specific point on operations, "said the Elysee. Traore has postponed his visit to Paris originally scheduled Wednesday. For several months, the West Africa has proposed sending with the endorsement of the United Nations, African armed forces of more than 3,300 men, European countries, including France, the former colonial power, promised to help logistically for the reconquest of northern Mali.

The Burkina Faso on Saturday announced the deployment of a battalion of "500 men", and Niger has confirmed a troops. In Bamako, the night was calm and people have the French flag on their car to approve the intervention of France. Washington, who said "share the goal of France to withdraw their sanctuary to terrorists in the region," he plans to provide support "logistics", in-flight refueling and surveillance drones, said a senior official U.S.. Paris Friday asked the Security Council of the UN accelerating the implementation of resolution 2085, which allows including the deployment of the international force in support of Mali (Misma).

OPERATION WOLVERINE/MALI

French Helicopter Pilot First Casualty


PARIS--The French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced Saturday, January 12, that French units were deployed to Bamako, Mali. "Order was given to deploy first French units in Bamako since yesterday [Friday] night to contribute to the protection of Bamako and to ensure the safety of our citizens. Their building is underway, and the device should quickly have multiple companies. So these are a few hundred French soldiers who are engaged, "said the minister.

Witnesses joined Saturday said they saw "dozens of bodies" Islamists after clashes between the army and the jihadists, who finally took control.



French Lt. Damien Boiteux

The Minister confirmed that a French soldier was fatally wounded during a helicopter raid "against terrorist column" pointing to two cities in the southern part of Mali, Mopti and Sévaré, after taking Konna Friday. American Dessources indicated Friday that French combat helicopter were killed in the fighting.
The raid was conducted "to 16 hours" and "support the Malian army has destroyed several units" terrorists "stopped their progress," said Mr Le Drian stating that "in this intense fighting, the One of our pilots (...) was mortally wounded. " "There is the lieutenant of the 4th Regiment Damien Boiteux helicopter gunships (RHC) Pau who was evacuated from the nearest medical facility before succumbing to his injuries," said the Minister in paying tribute to his memory. According to the Ministry of Defence, he was killed by small arms fire a fighter Islamist while he was in a Gazelle helicopter. The Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, expressed "great emotion" after the death of Lieutenant French and hailed "the unwavering courage" French military working alongside Malian armed forces.


The President François Hollande expressed in a connected by a "deep emotion" and sent to the pilot's family and relatives "sincere condolences". "His work helped stop the advance of ground forces to Mopti and will remain in our memories," he said. Mr. Holland also praised "the courage and dedication of our soldiers fighting alongside Malian forces against terrorist movements." The president has decided to cancel Saturday's trip to Marseille because of the situation in Mali, a defense council which was convened at 3:00 p.m. at the Elysée.
Mr. Holland was also in the morning a new telephone contact with the Chairman of ECOWAS, Alassane Ouattara, who confirmed that the means of the Economic Community of West Africa would be mobilized as soon as possible to intervene in Mali. Ouattara also thanked the Head of State for the military involvement of France in Mali. Then shows the Elysee, the president of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou called Mr. Holland to confirm the commitment of troops next.
The French operation was named "Wolverine", the name of a small feline desert, said Admiral Edouard Guillaud, Chief of Defence Staff. He said there was a command to "tactical level", based in Mali, and a command "strategic in Paris, alongside the Minister of Defence and the President of the Republic." "This is a French operation," he said when asked about the presence of German soldiers.
Jean-Marc Ayrault said Saturday the need for the intervention of the French army in Mali "to stop the terrorist threat," recalling that he would inform Parliament in accordance with the Constitution and receive on Monday Presidents of the Assembly and Senate. In a brief televised address from Matignon, the Prime Minister said, following the green light given by François Hollande this intervention, and that France wanted to "help stop the threat of terrorism, which threatens not only Mali and Africa but also threatens France and Europe. " "Under the Constitution, Article 35 led the government to inform within three days in Parliament this type of intervention," said the head of government.


NO LINK BETWEEN THE INTERVENTION IN MALI AND SOMALIA

The French military intervention in Mali and operation in Somalia, which would have resulted in the death of French hostage Denis Allex, were "totally disconnected" assured the minister.
The intervention in Somalia "could have taken place earlier, she had even been considered earlier, and geographical conditions, technical and weather were not met," said the minister. According to him, "there is not a link, especially as the French intervention in Mali was not, as you know, programmed."

Malian President acting Dioncounda Traoré thanked François Hollande Saturday for military intervention by France and Mali to make a "point of operations," said the Elysee.
Traore called Saturday morning President Holland for the "thank you" and made "a point of military operations" in Mali, said the President of the Republic. Malian President postponed his visit to Paris originally scheduled Wednesday, it was also indicated.


REQUEST FOR RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE INTERNATIONAL

France asked Friday in a letter to the Security Council "to accelerate the implementation of resolution 2085" which authorizes the deployment of such an international force in Mali (ISAF support to Mali - Misma). In this letter, Paris "informs" as the Council that "the French armed forces have made in response to the request [Mali] and in consultation with our partners, particularly in the area support units Mali to fight against the elements terrorists. "This operation "the last time," it added.

In his letter to his Pakistani counterpart Masood Khan, who chairs the Council in January, the French Ambassador Gerard Araud says "take this opportunity to emphasize that the evolution of the situation justifies accelerate the implementation of resolution 2085 for a solution to the crisis in all its dimensions Mali, political as military. "The letter stresses that the French military operation "to incrit under international law and the last time."

According to diplomats, the French intervention relies in particular on Article 51 of the UN Charter, which provides an "inherent right of individual or collective, in the case where a member of the United Nations is object of an armed attack. "France is not required in this context to obtain Council authorization but inform.



We impose the war (...) ", Mali will" a scathing response and massive "his" enemies ", promised Friday night in a message to the Nation Acting President Dioncounda Traoré." Situation on the eastern front generally under control. Bravely, our armed forces, the son of this country face the situation, "assured Mr. Traoré, who" sounded the general mobilization of the great Malian army. "

The chief of military operations Malian Dao Colonel Umar, said Friday that French soldiers were Senegalese and Nigerian supported in the city Sévaré. "Other countries have already manifested friends and we're waiting," said Colonel Dao without giving details. In the evening, the countries of West Africa have officially authorized the immediate dispatch of troops. The President of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS), the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, has "decided to immediately autoriserl'envoi troops on the ground under the MISMA (International Force support in Mali). "The exact nature of support and French West Africa is still unknown.



SUPPORT OF WASHINGTON

The White House said Friday that she shared the objectives of France in Mali. "We noted that the Malian government had asked for help, and we share the goal of preventing terrorist French to enjoy a sanctuary in the region," said Tommy Vietor, spokesman national Security Council (NSC), the firm foreign policy of President Barack Obama. The State Department assured that the United States was "obviously very étoites consultations with the French government," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland insisting that the commitment had been requested by French Mali. Bamako has not asked the United States to provide direct military support identical, said Ms. Nuland.

In Paris, the French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian himself announced that he spoke by phone with his counterpart crisis américainLeon Panetta. The two ministers discussed their "common concern about the security situation in Mali," said a U.S. official.

The United States plans to help France in its military engagement against Islamists in Mali, with support "logistics" and surveillance drones, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. Of French officials in Paris, their American counterparts and other allied countries are full discussions on a plan of action in Mali, he said, noting that U.S. forces had air bases in Italy and for enEspagne French aircraft may refuel.


CONCERN FOR HOSTAGE

The families of eight French hostages held by Islamic groups in the Sahel have expressed concern Friday after the announcement of the commitment of French forces alongside the Malian army and divide the attitude àadopter. The Chairman of supporting two hostages, Pascal Lupart called on BFM-TV special forces intervention in the camps where the French, believing that otherwise their lives would be threatened. "Special forces today, they must intervene, "he said.

But the daughter of one of the two hostages, Diane Lazarevic, opposed on the same line with the request. "I do not want there to be one of special forces," she said. "I do not see how France will attack Islamic, it seems unlikely," she said, recalling the failure of an operation of this type a few years ago. "I see that we are in a position where we experience things. There are a number of things which link us fall over, "said for his part Jean-Pierre Verdon, father of Philippe Verdon, on RTL. "We are in a position to endure. Our concern is growing, it is an anxiety that takes a body consisting of more, "he added. Jean-Pierre Verdon, the authorities have "done everything to try to find solutions" to the liberation of the hostages, "but it was not successful." "I think it is the best interest of the State which has prevailed," he said, estimating that the reaction took place in Paris urgency after the capture of the city by Islamic groups Konna .


The wife of Francis Collomp French engineer kidnapped in Nigeria December 19 by an Islamist group, received a call from the Quai d'Orsay to ask him to "keep faith" after the announcement of the French military intervention in Mali. She is the sister of Anne-Marie Collomp, together Saturday morning reported that this call received on Friday evening. It was part of the "anxiety" of the family.

The French military intervention in Mali follows the "same cause" that efforts to release the eight French nationals held by Islamic groups in the Sahel, justified the Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius face the anxiety of families. "By preventing the progression to the south of these groups and answering them in an extremely strong, we believe this is the same cause that we serve when we release the hostages," he said.


(Translated from Mali Web; Jan 12, 2013)