The sandy ground crunches underfoot. This is just out of the city S??var??, and already the bush size. South begins the mountainous terrain of the Dogon plateau. In contrast, the walls of the airport S??var??. At the foot of a rocky ridge, three tents washed by rains, home position of the Malian army to oversee access to the airport. The French tanks? Ais, with their 90 mm gun, man? Uvrent test firing angles.
Forces operation “Serval” unfold in S??var?? adjacent town of Mopti, where military bases and the main lock of southern Mali that armed groups allied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) failed break, ten days ago.
Since then, the French military conducted strikes triggered an emergency response on the ground with the Malian army. After arranging the embroidered with Markala further south, the French system? Ais unfolds to S??var?? doubly crucial city. Mopti is the narrowest point of the country, between the north corridor, a huge shark fin, which is almost two-thirds of the country (and a half times the size of France), and south. In addition, S??var?? and its airport are destined to become the platform of the International Mission Support Mali. So many reasons to protect the area.
If all armed groups allied to Al-Qaeda want to try a new breakthrough southward S??var?? is not the right path. The bridge region Markala is also under control the Franco-Malian. As for containers, which allow the passage of the river at several points, they re? U order to keep permanent heart ty south, so that the warning is given when attempting to pass.
Remains a maneuver to bypass the southern Dogon country. A French officer? Ais ensures that the intelligence apparatus of the Malian army should give, again, the alert in case of eruption columns of pick-up, and allow operation interception. “Out of the question of being overwhelmed to have another problem in the back,” says the commander. Since their intervention in Afghanistan, the French military? Ais prefer not to give their names, so that their families are threatened.
The hundreds of pick-up which had at their January offensive, AQIM fighters, Ansar Eddine and the Movement for the uniqueness and jihad in West Africa (Mujao) dispersed. The rebels seem to recede into areas they ma? Trisent better.
Beyond S??var?? they got Konna and around Douentza (192 km from Mopti), which came Monday, the Malian forces, a group of 200 to 300 men of Colonel Didier Dacko. En route, clashes seem to have held with rebels ambushed convoys that take on the RPG (rocket-propelled grenades). Malian forces also found a crude device, consisting of two gas cylinders and should explode the passage of their vehicles. The system did not work, but it sets the tone for the rest: the rebels are likely to avoid head-on collisions to focus on guerrilla tactics.
The Malian army, advancing north with elements of French Special Forces? Ease, pushing before her group pickup that become targets for strike aircraft and helicopters fran? Ais. Dozens of vehicles have been destroyed.
TOMBOUCTOU POINT POOL for jihadists
The Franco-Malian troops on the ground gradually engage in the vast north. Soon, the real fun should begin at the first cities (Gao and Timbuktu, especially). But in areas where they take embroidered on the French soldiers? Ais are also under threat of attacks. ? Ease a French military source notes: “At this point, they watch us, they try to understand how it works, to see if there are flaws in the system and enjoy.”
At the beginning of the offensive, a second concentration of rebel fighters had gathered in the area of ??Lere, before descending to Segou and be stopped at Diabali. It is also in decline. Monday, the press was allowed to enter the city after the start, the day before, rebel fighters. Where they are now? They may have separated, some taking the road to the forest Wagadu, very close, the natural protection is awesome and where their scouts camp were recently reported. Part of their group back, perhaps, to Mauritania, in the idea of ??trying a maneuver to bypass the desert of Mali and French forces? Ease. Finally, some move to Timbuktu.
At the same time, the city is transformed into the gathering point for rebel fighters. Several sources claim that “jihadists” coming in from other countries. Among them, there would be specialists improvised explosive (IED).
None of these claims can not be verified. In the city, where mobile phones are switched off, a local official reached by satellite phone says that “the bombings continue, the night”, a fuel tank was hit, but that “the Islamic police are still there.” Each side is preparing for further operations. They will be hard.
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