French say U.S. backs Mali military action

The foreign minister of France says the U.S. is providing support for a campaign of French air raids in northern Mali.

Mali, a rising stronghold for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, has long been a topic of rising concern in the international community and a potential launching point for terrorist attacks against western targets.

France launched a series of air strikes against extremist targets in northern Mali on Sunday, a continuation of efforts to flush out extremists that have already included the deployment of 550 French soldiers to the country. And now, top French officials say the U.S. is backing their efforts.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told the German-language radio station RTL radio that the U.S. was providing communications and transport assistance to the effort, while other nations including Great Britain were also offering help, the Associated Press reported.

American officials reportedly offered the use of drones in the anti-terrorism effort over the weekend.

In a statement to the French people Jan. 11, French President Francois Hollande said France had responded to requests for help from Mali’s president for the sake of the nation’s citizens as well as the more than 6,000 French citizens residing in the country.

The matter of military intervention, Hollande said, would be put before the French parliament today.

President Barack Obama is expected to hold the final press conference of his first term today at 11:15a.m. and is expected to field questions about U.S. assistance to military action in Mali then.