It is Day Four of the French intervention in Mali.
Militant Islamists have reportedly fled from several towns they had occupied in the north.
The French say its proof their operation is working.
Militants have retaken the western town of Diabali but this is not being seen as a setback.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is careful to stress the intervention was not a unilateral decision.
“France is responding to a request from the President of Mali,” he said at a press conference, “and within the terms of the UN Charter. We have the support of the international community, most notably that of the African states.”
France’s ambassador to the UN says thousands of African troops are expected in Mali in days or weeks.
It sets a date for their deployment initially agreed by a UN resolution in December for some time this year.
France has sent 550 troops and says that number is set to increase to 2,500 over the next few days.
At least 11 Malian soldiers and one French helicopter pilot have been killed. Dozens of militants are said to have been killed. The humanitarian situation is said to be deteriorating fast.