US to support French in Mali with aerial refueling

US to support French in Mali with aerial refueling

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Malian soldiers patrol in a street of Diabaly (400km north of the capital Bamako) on January 26, 2013. French-led Malian troops recaptured the Islamist stronghold of Gao, today, the biggest town in northern Mali, and troops from Niger and Chad "will now take up the baton," the French defence ministry said. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 26, 2013 at 11:17 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 27 at 9:42 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has decided to provide additional support to the French military in its war against Islamic militants in Mali by conducting aerial refueling missions.

The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told the French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, that U.S. Africa Command will provide the aerial refueling support. A Pentagon spokesman says the two defense officials discussed the refueling missions and other topics during a phone conversation Saturday.

U.S. aerial refueling planes would be a boost to air support for French ground forces as they enter areas of Mali that are controlled by al-Qaida-linked extremists.

The U.S. has already been helping France by transporting French troops and equipment to the West African nation.

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