French, Malian troops retake main towns
The combined efforts of French and Malian troops has led to recapture of two key towns from al-Qaeda-linked Islamists holding Mali’s north. The towns of Diabaly and Douentza were retaken in the 11-day offensive led by former colonial power France, whose aim is the "total reconquest" of Mali’s vast semi-arid north.
However, the reaction of Egypt on this move of France was sharply critical which is not in support of military intervention in Mali saying the move will fuel conflict in the region.
Diabaly, which lies 400 kilometres north of the capital Bamako.
Douentza is a strategic crossroads town some 100km east of Konna.
The planned deployment of around 6000 African soldiers is slowly taking place into Bamako. The UN-approved African-led force is hindered by cash and logistical constraints, requiring up to 200 million euros.