The French military intervention in Mali is only a few days old, but already French air power is having an impact. According to the French Defense Minister, Rafale and Mirage fighter-bombers have flown a number of sorties over Mali, bombing targets in Goa and across the rebel-held territories in northern Mali. The French military intervention is apparently rapidly expanding in scope and scale, according to the Washington Post and other news sources.
Not surprisingly, news media have focused on the demonstrations of French air power. The front page of the center-left newspaper Libération provides a good example of this pattern:
The initial stages of the French bombing campaign have already resulted in civilian casualties, as well as rebel deaths. The Guardian and Human Rights Watch report on civilian casualties. The intervention is not exclusively an air campaign, however, since French troops have landed in the capital of Bamako and a column of French tanks has been sighted on the ground.
Meanwhile, Islamist militant groups have launched a counter-attack on the ground, retaking the town of Diabaly, according to reports today by Le Monde and the BBC. Malian militant groups have also threatened to retaliate with international terrorist attacks on French soil, according to France 24. A series of cyber attacks has already been launched on French diplomatic and media sites, according to Le Monde.
The French government has promised a short, limited intervention. The BBC reports on French President François Hollande’s statements and the aims discussed by the French military. But, the Guardian provides criticism of the justifications for military intervention and a Le Monde piece questions whether or not the intervention is legal under international law. Curiously, Algeria has decided to approve French intervention in Mali and is allowing French Air Force to fly through its air space to reach Mali, according to a report in Libération.