French military officials say they will up forces from 800 to 2500 and in Mali a huge logistical operation to support ground forces grinds into place.
After a punishing bombing campaign failed to stop the southward advance of Al Qaeda-linked fighters, France announced Tuesday it will triple the number of troops deployed to Mali, suggesting the French are preparing for a land assault to dislodge the extremists.
The move reverses months of rhetoric in which France had said they would provide aerial and logistical support for a military intervention, but insisted it would need to be led by African troops.
Last week France plunged headfirst into the conflict, authorizing air strikes after the extremists launched an aggressive push southward. Despite pounding the north of this landlocked country with 250-kilogram (550-pound) bombs for the past five days, the rebels have extended their reach, taking over a town and its strategically important military camp in the central Malian town of Diabaly on Monday.
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