The French authorities have, Wednesday, February 6, signs of confusion on the outcome of the military operation in Mali, which appeared on January 10 firmly led by the Head of State and Minister of Defense. "If everything goes as planned, from March, troops deployed in Mali is expected to decrease," said the spokesman of the government after the cabinet meeting. These comments break with the presidential line adopted hitherto - forces remain "the time it takes." They were made by the Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, in the press in the morning. However, according to several sources, François Hollande has not taken into account when counseling her.
Fabius had already caused tensions, January 13, revealing the overflight permission given by Algeria to French aircraft. Especially as the Rafale were two days earlier, went through another route.
The timing of the operation is not controllable Mali. The political message hammered in recent days - "France does not intend to stay in Mali" - makes much of a view, pending the relay that Paris wants to accelerate, forces Africa and Mali. "Withdrawal" will "to whistle", said only Wednesday, Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, what the military translate "dropper".
"SNAP" at GAO
Paris just finished deploying his army in a ground operation larger than Afghanistan. The numbers, 4000 men peaked on February 4. The second phase of the Serval, push the Islamists to the north, is not complete. Cities were "taken", Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal in part. The company's second EPR jumped on Timbuktu is already left its base in Abidjan, illustrating the "war of movement" that wants to promote the French defense. Conventional units but not all arrivals relay special forces and paratroopers.
Especially in the vast areas between cities, the elements of "terrorist groups" Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Ansar and the Mujao Eddine are still there. There is not true "pockets" of resistance, say military sources, but "residue" or isolated individuals who have melted into the population in the villages of the north-west side of the river Niger, to the north around Timbuktu, and to the east around Gao and Ansongo. French officials confirmed Wednesday "clashes" near Gao, mortars claimed by Mujao. Laying mines on the roads also reflects persistent activity.
The groups were coordinated to descend Konna Mopti and January 10 have not been able to develop a comprehensive strategy of avoidance due to airstrikes. They have literally scattered.
150 to 300 S KILLED jihadist
Fuel depots, ammunition - including ground-air batteries marked north - camps logistics was disorganized. Hunters of the Air Force conducted some 160 keystrokes plus those helicopters and special forces. The majority of targets were identified upstream. But in this war of pick-up, other, mobile, are still being discovered.
The Minister of Defence has confirmed that "several hundred" jihadists were killed. Estimated as very cautious not verified in the field, ranging from 150 to 300. These figures are to be compared with estimated forces: a core of around 800 fighters AQIM, 1200 participants from 10 January offensive.
Few hundred fighters were reassembled in the Adrar des Ifoghas sanctuary north. Some jihadists were offset by Nigerian forces. Mauritanians have also seized the fugitives. Algerians have massed military means at the border. But all these sides are far from watertight.
Intelligence capabilities deployed in the area to detect and prevent consolidation. But the desert is very demanding and French forces in Africa. Enormous distances and extreme conditions require a strong logistics. The French army, whose resources are limited, can not long remain at this level: it is tactically absurd - this would exhaust itself in an endless - and financially unsustainable.
The third phase is that of the military and stabilization operations against terrorism. UN under a hat during the study, African forces, then Mali should, within unspecified occupy the land. While special units treat the jihadist leaders in northern sanctuaries, reduced and identified. It will take at least a year to rebuild the Malian army, say experts.
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