US maintains troops in Mali backing French forces
Iran Press TV
Wed May 1, 2013 10:49AM GMT
The US military has deployed forces to the African nation of Mali to support the invading French troops there despite repeated pledges by the Obama administration not to send American soldiers to the war-ravaged country.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Firman said 10 US military personnel are currently in Mali to offer “liaison support” to French and African forces and 12 more are assigned to the American Embassy in Mali’s capital of Bamako, The Washington Post reports Wednesday.
According to the daily, the US Defense Department had insisted in the past that “it had no intention of sending troops to Mali” and that it would only engage in supporting the invading French forces in the country by providing aerial refueling to their warplanes, sharing intelligence with “allies,” and ferrying “soldiers from neighboring African countries to Mali on US troop transport planes.”
The Obama administration, the report notes, has been prohibited by US law from granting military aid to Mali since March 2012, when its ruling president was ousted in a coup.
Since the coup, however, “there have been signs that some US Special Operations forces have been deployed to Mali on undeclared missions,” the daily adds.
It further points out that three American soldiers were killed in Mali in April 2012 “in a mysterious car crash in Bamako.”
Moreover, according to the daily, Republican US Congressman John Kline “suggested” last month that US commandos were “taking action” in Mali.
The remarks came at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, where Kline asked Adm. William McRaven, the head of the US Special Operations Command, whether his troops were coordinating their efforts with the French military.
McRaven replied that American soldiers were “working closely with the French in Mali” but did not elaborate on their mission, the report notes.
France continues to maintain a force of 4,000 troops in Mali. So far, six French soldiers have been killed in the country since they invaded the African nation back in January.
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