French Foreign Legion in Mali
French forces are preparing for a possible ground assault in Mali against al-Qaida-linked rebels who have continued to push south despite of French aerial bombardments. France has put more than 700 soldiers including the legionnaires on the ground in Mali since it began its rapid deployment January 11, 2013 at the request of the Malian government.
The plan is to deploy 1,600 French soldiers in the short term and bring that number up to 2,500 in coming weeks. The legionnaires being deployed in Mali since last Friday belong to the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment, 1er REC. 1er REC have moved to Northern Mali, where rebels have taken over.
As we can see in the video below, the legionnaires with their green berets (which distinguish them from other french soldiers) are really present in Mali.
Legionnaires of the 1er REC in Mali:
1er REC observing in Gao, Mali
The French Army have launched a few new images of the French Foreign Legion operating in Mali. We can see the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC) with the Malian soldiers in Gao, Mali. The 1st REC is observing the entrance of the strategic bridge over the river Niger and the main road to Gao.
The images were taken just before the Islamists started a campaign of suicide bombing attacks against Malian and French forces in this area last week.