US Congressmen in Mali on fact-finding mission
TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) — A delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with military officials in Mali's capital on Monday, and urged caution as the French-led military intervention to wrest back control of the country's north from the al-Qaida fighters entered its fifth week.
French President Francois Hollande unilaterally launched the intervention last month after the extremist groups began a push south. They later reached out to allies for logistical help. The United States is providing C-17 transport planes and in-air refueling, as well as help with intelligence gathering, but has ruled out sending troops.
The four lawmakers are led by Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees Africa issues. After meeting with French military officials as well as their Malian counterparts, Coons told The Associated Press by telephone: "My initial impression is that the French are very confident that their military intervention has been swift, decisive and effective in driving the jihadists completely out of towns in the north."
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