British troops to be sent to Mali

The Guardian reports: A major increase in the UK commitment to help French and African forces in Mali and the region has been confirmed by Downing Street and the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, in an urgent statement to the House of Commons.

Amid concerns on the Tory benches that Britain is being drawn into a conflict without an exit strategy, the government said that 200 UK troops would train an African regional force outside Mali, with up to 40 more on an EU training mission inside the country. A further 70 RAF personnel will oversee the use of Sentinel surveillance, to be based in Senegal with 70 supporting crew and technical staff, and 20 will staff a C-17 transport plane for a further three months.

Britain has offered a roll-on, roll-off ferry to help transport French armour to Mali by sea, landing on the African coast. Britain is also offering air-to-air refuelling capacity to operate outside the UK, but based in Britain. It is possible the US will provide air-to-air refuelling.

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