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article image350 British troops to be sent to Mali

By Eileen Kersey     Jan 29, 2013 in Politics
French troops entered the African country of Mali on January 12. Within days the UK announced that it would be sending two planes to assist French forces. They would only offer logistical support and there would be no 'boots on the ground'.
On January 12, French forces, at the request of the country's leader, entered Mali. On January 13, Sky News reported, 'A British military plane, an RAF C17, will stop in Paris before heading to the West African country of Mali to help the French military operation'.
Initial reports, of the conflict, painted a picture of successes and France's, Francois Hollande, indicated it would be a short, sharp, military effort. That has not proved to be the case.
Breaking news in the UK, Tuesday, was that British forces will be joining the French mission in Mali.
Forty troops are to be sent to Mali as part of an EU military training mission. However there are reports that UK PM David Cameron is prepared to send a sizeable British contingent into Mali, to drive back Islamist militants.
Insurgents pushed back from Timbuktu set fire to priceless manuscripts. The Guardian reports Francois Hollande said "Britain was "keen" to provide further military assistance to France".
The Huffington Post reports that hundreds of British troops could be sent to Mali. The latest media reports claim that 200 British troops will be heading for Mali.
A week ago 5,300 British army job cuts were announced.
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No.10 has now confirmed the number of troops that will be sent to Mail and West Africa. 350. David Cameron still maintains these will not be in a fighting role.
UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond announced the latest news to an almost empty House of Commons, lunchtime Tuesday.
The BBC reports, The UK is already sending a C17 transport plane for three months and an RAF Sentinel surveillance aircraft.
Number 10 said it would also allow the US to operate air refuelling flights out of Britain.
And it offered a roll-on, roll-off Merchant Navy ferry to help transport equipment to the French force in Mali. It would dock at a port in a West African state to enable the kit to be moved
The UK has also offered to set up a combined joint logistics HQ in Mali, however so far the French have declined this offer.
In the House of Commons the Labour opposition called for further 'clarity on what part the UK might take in the French-led mission'. At time of writing UK PM David Cameron insists it will not be a 'fighting' role.
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