African forces send 1,000 soldiers to Mali

There are now 1,000 soldiers from West Africa and Chad on the ground in Mali.

French army soldiers stand on armoured vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations on 15 January, 2013. Picture: AFP

PARIS - There are now 1,000 soldiers from West Africa and Chad on the ground in Mali as part of an intervention force that should eventually number several thousand, France's armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard said on Monday.

Burkhard told reporters 830 soldiers from countries including Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria, plus 170 from Chad, were backing France's force of 2,150 soldiers on the ground, helping the Malian army push back Islamist rebel fighters.