17:13 29 January 2013
Officials from the Government’s headquarters have announced on Tuesday that at least 300 British military personnel could be sent to Mali, West Africa. The reason for the deployment would be to help France and French supporters there.
The news comes as the struggle in Mali continues, and the situation is seeing France tackling Islamist militants. This follows a region of the West African country being seized in 2012.
The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said there was an awareness of the risks involved. He commented that: “It is not our intention to deploy combat troops. We are very clear about the risks of mission creep.
“We have defined very carefully the support that we are willing to provide to the French and the Malianauthorities.”
If British personnel are to be deployed to West Africa, a number of them are expected to be involved in training troops there.
General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the British Army, expressed his view when speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today programme. He said: “It doesn't really surprise me that the British Government feels it needs to be seen to be helping.”
There have been reports that some individuals are concerned that the UK would become more involved in the crisis.
It is understood that a decision is yet to be confirmed.
Troops in support of France have already seized Timbuktu, a town in Mali which is situated north of the River Niger, from Islamists.
Mali shares its borders with Algeria to the north, and Nigeria to the South.
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