First Published: 2013-01-16

 

French troops in Mali pushing north

 

French Defence Minister says troops are making their way to Islamist-held territory a day after launching ground offensive.

 

Middle East Online

PARIS - French ground troops deployed in Mali are pushing north towards Islamist-held territory, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday, admitting operations were proving "very difficult" in some areas.

"Now French ground troops are making their way north," he told RTL radio a day after the launch of a ground offensive marking the second phase of France's intervention that began last week with an aerial campaign.

Le Drian said the French intervention was going well but that the fight would be long and difficult.

"It's a little more difficult in the west, where we have the toughest, most fanatical and best-organised groups. It's underway there but it's difficult," he said.

"We were aware from the beginning that this would be a very difficult operation," he said, noting that more than 1,000 Islamist rebels were in the western zone and may receive reinforcements.

"We are in a very positive situation compared with last week, but fighting continues and it will be long. The goal is for Mali to regain sovereignty over all of its territory," Le Drian said.

 

Erdogan seeks to defuse standoff around Turkey’s Qatar

Arab League accuses Israel of 'playing with fire' at holy site

Syria warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire

600,000 Yemenis expected to contract cholera in 2017

Foreign food chains hoping for taste of Iran market

US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle

UN aid flight carrying journalists barred from Yemen

Former IS slaves fight for revenge in Raqa

US, Iran trade tit-for-tat sanctions

20 Yemeni civilians killed in air strike

14 killed in opposition infighting in Syria's Idlib

Morocco sentences 25 to prison over W. Sahara killings

Egypt police kill top militants

Heavy rainfall hits Istanbul causing transport chaos

Palestinians protest Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa compound

Saudi police question woman who wore miniskirt

Rebels, US-backed Kurds clash in northern Syria

Netanyahu says Hungary is 'standing up for' Israel

Lebanon army to launch operation near Syria border

Morocco delays currency reform amid speculation

Iran parliament vows to fight US 'adventurism'