Posted: Jan 11, 2013 10:34 AM
Updated: Jan 11, 2013 10:36 AM
PARIS (AP) French troops have started conducting military operations against Islamist extremists in Mali, alongside troops from the West African country.
President Francois Hollande said Friday that Mali is facing a "terrorist aggression." He said that in response to a request by Mali's president for help, "French army forces supported Malian units this afternoon to fight against terrorist elements."
He said the French operation would last "as long as necessary" and said it was aimed notably at protecting the 6,000 French citizens in Mali, a former French colony.
France has led a diplomatic push for international action in Mali against Islamist extremists. The announcement Friday came as the Islamists who control northern Mali advance ever closer toward the furthest town still under government control.