France appears to have taken a step closer to military intervention in Mali.
Following rebel consolidation of power in the north, its troops are on the move again, and threatening the entire country.
They have now taken the city of Konna, opening the road to the south and the capital, Bamako.
The government has just announced it is counter-attacking to retake Konna, and has deployed armour, helicopters and, say eyewitnesses, unidentified foreign troops.
"Mali is faced with blatant aggression, so I have decided that France will respond, alongside its African partners, to the request of the Malian authorities. We will do it strictly within the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolution. We are ready to stop the terrorists' offensive if it continues because it is a duty of solidarity and responsibility for France to uphold the Security Council's resolution," said French President François Hollande on Friday.
Mali government asks France for military aid
Mali's fight against the Islamist rebels controlling the north of the country has suffered a setback, causing the West African country to ask for military help from France.
The request has been made in the UN Security council after rebels took Konna, 600 kilometres northeast of the Mali's capital Bamako