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France to support African military intervention in Mali

(Xinhua)

09:52, August 06, 2012

PARIS, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- France will support African military intervention in Mali to crack down on Islamist insurgents but will not send troops, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday.

"An African military intervention is desirable and inevitable," Le Drian told France Info Radio.

However, France will not take a military initiative in Mali, he said. France hopes that African forces could be the first to take action in Mali in line with the UN Security Council resolution.

The minister expressed concern over the situation in northern Mali, which has been under the control of Islamist groups for almost five months.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier that his country would not send troops to Mali, but would help West African nations to get approval from the international community to use force.

Mali has been struggling to stay as one united nation since a military coup in March, when hardline Islamists and Tuareg rebel forces seeking an independent homeland took advantage of the chaos and seized control of the north.

The Islamists subsequently forced out the Tuareg nationalists and took control of the region and imposed Sharia law.

According to UN refugee officials, the armed conflict in northern Mali has forced 260,000 people to flee to neighboring countries.

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