French allies fly support missions into Mali

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International support for France's Operation Serval activity against al-Qaeda and other militants inside Mali has grown to include the commitment of air transport and other support assets by several of its NATO allies.

Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the UK are among the nations so far to have allocated around a combined dozen transport aircraft and helicopters to support the French intervention, with the USA also assessing what logistical assistance its military might lend.

Types involved in the delivery of personnel, equipment and armoured vehicles to the Malian capital, Bamako, have included Boeing C-17s owned by Canada and the UK, Lockheed Martin C-130H/Js from the air forces of Belgium, Denmark and France, and C160 Transalls from France and Germany. Belgium has also agreed to allocate two AgustaWestland AW109s, to be made available for possible medical evacuation duties.

French army Aerospatiale Gazelle attack helicopters continue to conduct operations against militants in the north of Mali, along with two air force Dassault Mirage F1CR armed reconnaissance aircraft that were moved to Bamako airport from Chad on 14 January. Six Mirage 2000D and four Rafale B combat aircraft are also involved in the action, flying long-range sorties from N'Djamena in Chad, supported by a detachment of five Boeing C-135 tankers. Operations also involve a combined five French Hercules and C160s and navy ATL-2 Atlantique surveillance aircraft.

Several army Eurocopter SA330 Puma transport helicopters also arrived in Bamako by air transport on 16 January.

The French defence ministry says 1,700 of its troops were involved in the Serval campaign as of 15 January, including 800 personnel deployed into Mali from Chad. Paris launched its military action to support the Malian government on 11 January, under the auspices of UN resolutions 2056 and 2085.