In Mali street battles are said to have been taking place between French special forces and Islamist militants in the town of Diabali, which fell into rebel hands on Monday.
Reports say French troop reinforcements have been arriving in the zone where jihadist groups are active.
French and Malian soldiers have been heading north from Bamako, the African country’s capital, as the ground operation gets underway.
On Tuesday hundreds of troops headed north from Niono. Diabali, 50 kilometres away, was bombarded several times by the French air force.
But witnesses say militants are still there.
“We’re in a better position than last week but the combat continues and it will be long, let’s be honest, the goal is to make sure that Mali regains all of its territory’s sovereignty,” said the French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
In Bamako there is a sense of relief at the French intervention.
“I am happy, very happy about the arrival of the French, for the freedom of the Malian people. There you are. We want the unity of our country and a Republican state and throw out once and for all the terrorists and narco-traffickers,” said resident Oumar Camara.
President Hollande has said the aim is to “destroy the terrorists”.
The number of French troops in the country is set to treble, before a West African force becomes operational.
Army chiefs from the West African force are meeting in Bamako to fine-tune the operation, being launched under a UN mandate.
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1As it happened: Malaysia’s flight mystery remains as searches extended to Malacca Strait
- 2Ships and aircraft from ten countries continue search for missing Malaysia flight
- 3Flight MH370: possible mid-air disintegration, unconfirmed object ‘spotted’ in sea
- 4Missing Malaysia Airlines plane ‘crashes off Vietnam’
- 5Turkey: Berkin Elvan, 15, hurt in Istanbul clashes, dies after months in coma
- 1Flight MH370: possible mid-air disintegration, unconfirmed object ‘spotted’ in sea
- 2As it happened: Malaysia’s flight mystery remains as searches extended to Malacca Strait
- 3Hijacking not ruled out as search for missing Malaysia Airlines jet enters third day
- 4Ships and aircraft from ten countries continue search for missing Malaysia flight
- 5Prayers for a miracle as the fate of missing Malaysia Airlines jet baffles the experts
- 1Missing Malaysia Airlines plane ‘crashes off Vietnam’
- 2Flight MH370: possible mid-air disintegration, unconfirmed object ‘spotted’ in sea
- 3Claims Michael Schumacher is breathing independently played down by his management
- 4Malaysia Airlines plane missing, presumed crashed
- 5Hijacking not ruled out as search for missing Malaysia Airlines jet enters third day
Wires > News
- 14:02 CET Putin says dissatisfied with Russia’s economic growth rate
- 13:47 CET Islamist militants, local men said to kill 22 in Syrian village
- 13:44 CET Little-known group claims killing of Swedish journalist in Kabul
- 13:17 CET Swiss investigating Uzbek president’s daughter over money…
- 13:01 CET Sudan police fire tear gas at protesters attending student’s…
- 12:59 CET Thousands flock to Turkish boy’s funeral after night of protest
- 12:46 CET Exclusive – EU approves framework and wording for sanctions on…
- 12:41 CET South Africa rebukes Rwanda over attacks on exiled opponents