The defense ministry in paris announced that the soldiers had taken control of the strategically important wabary bridge over the niger and the airport. During the operation, numerous vehicles and logistics bases of the islamists were destroyed.
Malian radio channel 2 confirmed the information. The city had initially fallen into the hands of tuareg fighters in april 2012 and had been ruled by islamist rebels since june.
According to information from the french defense ministry on saturday evening, the mayor of gao, sadou diallo, who fled from the rebels to the capital bamako, has meanwhile been able to return to his city. With this the regular power relations seemed to be restored. Gradually, support troops from chad and niger arrived in the area and continued to pound it. Together with the malian army, they should protect the region and its inhabitants in the future.
Eyewitnesses had previously confirmed that the army had already been advancing towards gao from the locations of sevare and douentza since friday. "There are french people everywhere here in sevare, some of their troops left yesterday to the north towards gao," said cab driver buba traore. Troops have also been massed in lere, southwest of the historic city of timbuktu, according to a french military spokesman. Apparently, an early advance to the legendary city of wusten was also planned.
Meanwhile, in the capital bamako, the council of ministers agreed on a plan to restore mali’s territorial integrity and organize free and fair elections. This was announced by the presidency. Now the parliament has to approve the document. Transitional president diounkounda traore also planned to attend the african union (AU) summit meeting this sunday and monday in the athiopian capital addis abeba and discuss the situation in his country with fellow officials.
The european union will begin sending military trainers to mali in mid-february. This was said by a spokesman for EU commissioner for the hood catherine ashton in brussel. Diplomats called the 12. February as start date. All trainers are to be on site by mid march, so that on 1. April the training could be taken up. Before that, the EU ministers must give the go-ahead.
In mid-january, the EU decided to send 200 to 250 military trainers to bamako to support mali’s army in the fight against the islamists. But the EU does not want to participate with combat troops in the franco-african military mission.
By 2012, the U.S. Had already trained malian troops to fight islamists. However, many of these soldiers, especially tuareg, subsequently defected to the separatists in the north. The new york times reported (on 13. January), the tuareg commanders of three of the four malian combat units in the north deserted along with their weapons and vehicles during the 2012 islamist attack. They were followed by 1600 other soldiers. The malian army had no means to stop the invaders after that.
Now, according to a report in the "new york times," the u.S. Is considering providing france with tanker aircraft for the mali war. As the paper writes (saturday), however, a decision has not yet been made. Washington is already helping transport french soldiers and providing satellite imagery and other intelligence. Paris had already asked germany for tanker planes.