15/01/13 13:05 CET
| updated xx mn ago
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French warplanes have carried out a new wave of air strikes against Islamist militant targets in Mali.
It is unclear how many aircraft took part in the overnight manoeuvre but officials say their objectives were met. One target was the town of Diabaly, in which rebels entered on Monday.
France has already 750 troops on the ground and now wants to increase that number to 2,500 in the coming weeks.
Speaking during a day visit to Abu Dhabi, French President Francois Hollande, expressed confidence that French forces could swiftly stop the Islamist insurgency and return Mali to normal, especially with extra support from an African contingency.
It is thought some 3,300 Ecowas regional troops will be deployed as foreseen in a UN backed intervention plan.
West African military chiefs are due to meet in Mali on Tuesday to discuss how such an alliance would operate on the ground.
Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Guinea have all offered troops. But regional powerhouse Nigeria, which is due to lead the mission, has cautioned that even if some troops arrive in Mali soon, training will take time.
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