France to send drones to Mali to fight al Qaeda
France is planning to send drones into Mali as part of an international intervention to free the west African country from al-Qaida-backed insurgents who control large swaths of its territory, according to reports.
A French defence official said the country was moving surveillance drones to the region as part of secretive plans with the US, amid increasing fears that, if left unchecked, the crisis could serve as a launchpad for terrorist attacks on its own soil.
Speaking to the Associated Press, the official said on Monday that France was discussing plans with the US for drones, intelligence-gathering and security in Africa's Sahel region. The German chancellor,Angela Merkel, said that Germany would be prepared to train Malian security forces and would consider providing "material and logistical support".
"Free democratic states cannot accept international terrorism gaining a safe refuge in the north of the country," Merkel said at a German military conference near Berlin. A diplomatic source told the Guardian that the international consensus on the need for a concerted action in Mali was unprecedented.
"I've never seen anything like this level of international co-operation : theUnited States, the EU – both collectively and its individual states – the UN security council, all are in 100% agreement about what we should do here," said the source, speaking in Mali's capital, Bamako, on condition of anonymity.
"It is no secret that there is military planning going on. The EU is conducting a scoping mission and looking to send a training team to help train the Malian army. But the French are the nation with the most experience working here, and they see the terrorism threat more acutely than others."
...Al Qaeda is not going away and in Mali they are taking control and putting the evils of Sharia in place. They are exploiting chaos in the region.