The Obama administration affirmed Friday that it supports a French military intervention to repel efforts by militant Islamists in Mali to take over the southern part of the country.
“We are monitoring the situation closely,” said White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor. “We have noted that the government of Mali has asked for support, and we share the French goal of denying terrorists a safe haven in the region.”
The French intervened with air strikes and reportedly with ground forces on Friday at the urging of Malian President Dioncounda Traore. The United Nations Security Council in December approved the creation of an African-led force to take back the northern half of the country but Friday's intervention was precipitated after Islamists took over the central town of Konna, near the strategically crucial city of Mopti.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday the United States has so far not been asked by Mali to provide direct support.