French Troops Now in Mali to Support Government

Tryng to block an Islamist victory


French troops have joined the Malian military in its fight to stop Islamist fighters from extending their reach into central Mali, President Francois Hollande said in a statement Friday.

Mali pleaded for French help Thursday after the strategic city of Konna fell to Islamist extremists, dealing a serious blow to the military and threatening a nearby airport. Reports quickly emerged Friday that French muscle was aiding in the push to eject rebels from Konna.

Hours after announcing that France "will be ready to stop the terrorists' advance, if it continues," Hollande confirmed to reporters that French troops were supporting Malian units and would do so "as long as is necessary," Agence France-Presse reported.