Jan 14, 2013 No Comments ›› spratico
France24-A military offensive to reclaim Mali’s north from Islamists fighters entered its fourth day on Monday, with al Qaeda linked-rebels promising attacks on French soil in retaliation to the European country’s intervention in the unstable West African country.
Malian and French soldiers, backed by heavy French military air support, pushed back rebel fighters from the central town of Konna over the weekend.
A dozen French fighter planes, including four Rafale jets, hit rebel targets in the cities of Goa and Kidal, deeper in the country’s rebel-held north. Residents of Goa said French air raids had struck bases and destroyed weapons depots.
Mali’s separatist Tuareg rebels ‘ready to help’ French forces
Mali’s separatist Tuareg rebel movement, the MNLA, has said it is ready to back a joint French-Malian offensive against Islamist militants in control of the northern half of the country.
“We’re ready to help, we are already involved in the fight against terrorism,” Moussa Ag Assarid, an MNLA official told news agency AFP by telephone from northern Mali on Monday.
The MNLA, a former ally of Islamist group Ansar Dine, originally helped take over northern Mali in April 2012, before an uneasy power-sharing arrangement between the two groups eventually unraveled.
Nevertheless, Malian soldiers continued to struggle against well-equipped rebels, who on Monday wrestled away control of the central town of Diabaly, according to French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “We knew that the key spots would be towards the west… where the most important fighting is going on today,” Le Drian told French BFM television.
Also on Monday, Islamists vowed to strike back at France.
“France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” Abou Dardar, a leader of Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the Mali-based groups with ties to al Qaeda, told the AFP news agency.
Asked where attacks would take place, Dardar said: “Everywhere. In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.”