French DM Vows ‘Total Reconquest’ of Mali

Rebels Withdraw From Forward Positions to Prepare for Long Defense

by Jason Ditz, January 20, 2013

Speaking to France 5 television today, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian vowed that the invasion of Mali would not stop with any pockets of resistance left at all, saying the goal is nothing short of “the total reconquest of Mali.”

French warplanes continue to pound rebel-held towns in central Mali with an eye toward eventual ground offensives against those areas, while the reports are that rebels have begun to pull back from southern Mali positions captured in the last few weeks to more defensible positions in the nation’s center.

Whether or not the town of Diabaly, the southern-most rebel-held town, has been retaken is still a matter of dispute. Malian military officials have been claiming the town had been captured since Friday, but Le Drian insisted today that this still wasn’t the case, expressing only hopes that they would soon manage to do so.

French officials had originally expressed confidence that they would turn Mali into a flourishing, terror-free democracy with the war, and this was liable to happen in a matter of weeks. Since then they have repeatedly expressed surprise at the strength of rebel fighters, however, and they have not taken meaningful territory since invading last weekend.

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