Wednesday, February 6, 2013

French battle Mali rebels in Sahara, Tuaregs an issue

French and Malian troops are fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahara outside northern Mali's biggest town, France's defense minister said on Wednesday, describing the desert campaign against al Qaeda as a "real war" that was far from won.

After driving the Islamists from north Mali's main towns with three weeks of air strikes and a lightning ground advance, France is now pursuing them in the remote northeast where pro-autonomy Tuaregs are pressing their own territorial claims.