19 January 2013
French special forces a lifeline for Mali soldiers
Fighting on the front in Mali to halt a swoop by Islamists descending from the north, French Special Forces have been a lifeline for the country's ill-equipped and demoralised soldiers. The French military intervention, sparked by the fall of the central town of Konna to Al-Qaeda linked militants over a week ago, saw hundreds of elite, war-hardened soldiers deployed in the west African country on a war footing. Initially restricted to air power, the French mission codenamed Serval, was soon broadened to include a ground offensive.