French and Malian military forces have retaken the city of Gao.
Le Monde reports that on the French government’s statements on the taking of Gao.
The combined French and Malian government forces are now reportedly advancing into Timbuktu, which has been held by Islamist militants for months. BBC and Le Monde report on the advance toward Timbuktu and the seizure of the city’s airport.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Timbuktu has indicated that militants have destroyed a library that housed historic manuscripts in the city. Timbuktu has been an important center of learning and Islamic legal thought, as well as a major trading center on the Trans-Saharan caravan routes, since the 12th century. The Islamic militant groups that seized control of Timbuktu last year have reportedly destroyed Sufi tombs and other historic sites in the city over several months. The loss of the Timbuktu’s important manuscript collections and religious sites is tragic for the citizens of Mali and for the historians of Africa, Islam, legal history, and comparative religion. The Guardian and the Washington Post report on this story.
The military situation on the ground is clearly fluid at this point. The BBC provides this map illustrating strategic sites that have been involve in the fighting: