Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counter-offensive on Monday in central Mali after four days of air strikes by French warplanes on their strongholds in the desert north, promising to drag France into a long and brutal Afghanistan-style ground war.
France intensified its air raids on Sunday using Rafale aircraft and Gazelle attack helicopters to pummel training camps at the heart of the vast area seized by rebels in April, while pouring hundreds of troops into the capital Bamako.
French planes were in action again on Monday. . .