Foreign air power is crucial to Mali battle plan
Malian troops backed by foreign air power will lead the assault to recapture northern cities from al Qaeda-linked militants, under a battle plan now being considered, Malian army sources said. . .
"International forces will not do the ground fighting, that role will belong to the Malian army," a military officer familiar with the plan . . .
"Air strikes will be the responsibility of the international force," he said, adding foreign partners would also provide logistical and intelligence support and soldiers and police to secure areas captured by the Malian army.
The plan covers a six-month period, with a preparatory phase for training and the establishment of bases in Mali's south, followed by combat operations in the north.
A second Malian military source said the army expected Islamist rebels to try to avoid conventional fighting by slipping away into remote mountains or blending in with local populations.
"That is the main problem, and it will fall to our intelligence services to solve it," he said.
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