France just got serious about Mali. French President Francois Hollande said late today his country has intervened in the West African nation to quash an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist offensive there.
In a statement issued late Friday Hollande said he had responded to a plea for help from the Malian government and that French armed forces since this afternoon have been supporting Malian units in the fight against the terrorists.
"This operation will take the necessary time," he said in the statement.
On Friday French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the BBC that France had carried out an air strike against terrorist militants in Mali.
Earlier in a televised address Hollande defended his decision:
The terrorists have recently regrouped on the line that artificially separates north and south Mali. They've even advanced, and they seek to strike a fatal blow to the very existence of Mali. France, like its African partners in the international community, cannot accept this. We're facing an aggression. So I've decided France is ready to respond on the side of our African partner on the request of the Malian authorities. France will do this strictly within the framework of the resolutions of the UN Security Council. We will be ready to stop the terrorist offensive because this is the requirement of solidarity and responsibility.