At the request of France whose war planes have neen pounding Mali with a barrage of bombs for three days now, the U.N. Security Council meets Monday to discuss the conflict in Mali.
France says it will not back down in its fight against terrorists, as Islamic extremists who control northern Mali threaten to push south.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said four warplanes bombed Islamist training camps and logistic depots around the town of Gao Sunday.
France deployed troops in Mali at the request of the Malian government, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French television and radio Sunday that the operation is not indefinite.
“Regarding France’s direct involvement, it is only a matter of weeks,” said Fabius. “Later on, we can come as back-up, but we have no intention of staying forever.”
Ansar Dine Islamic militants are threatening France with reprisals. President Francois Hollande has increased security across France.
Al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists seized control of northern Mali last March after renegade soldiers toppled the government, leaving a temporary power vacuum. The militants have imposed harsh conservative Islamic law across the north.
Mali is a former French colony and France still has a variety of economic and political interests there.
The neighboring countries of Niger, Burkina Faso and Senegal are promising to send troops to Mali.
The U.N. Security Council approved a plan last month for West African states to deploy at least 3,000 troops to Mali to help train the army and retake the north. None of those troops had been expected in Mali until September.
Mali’s interim president Dioncounda Traore has declared a state of emergency and has called on every Malian to help in the war effort.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said French forces in Mali are preparing for any rebel move aimed at Bamako, and that they will remain in the area as long as necessary. Ayrault said the militants are to blame for much lawlessness, including kidnappings.