'A British military plane, an RAF C17, will stop in Paris before heading to the West African country of Mali to help the French military operation', reports SkyNews. The plane will leave the UK this afternoon. This quickly follows yesterday's announcement by the British government that it would assist France in its military mission to push back Islamist rebels.
Today's flight will a protracted one. It will load at the stop-over in Paris before continuing on its way. With a ten-hour flight it is not expected to arrive Mali before tomorrow.
Yesterday France intervened in two African countries, Mali and Somalia. In Somalia a raid to free a French intelligence agent, held in Somalia since 2009, went horribly wrong. One soldier was killed, another is reported missing and it is believed that the intelligence agent was killed. Mali may prove easier to resolve but that remains to be seen. France has taken the action in Mali at the request of the country's leader, media sources report.
There are reports that in Mali French forces have managed to destroy two rebel units and hold back their advance. A French helicopter pilot has been killed.
PM Cameron said that the UK would provide two military planes but no personnel would be involved in military action. That stance may yet change.
Once again the UK is there at the start of a conflict. Committing to costly missions when the government claims the treasury coffers are empty. This news raises more questions than answers. Why are these rebels deemed different to those in Syria? Does the UK really want to become embroiled in more expensive conflict? If the boot were on the other foot could the UK count on support from the French or others?
Source The Independent