– EU approves 500-strong military mission in Mali (PressTV, Feb 18, 2013):
The European Union (EU) has formally given the go-ahead to the launch of a 500-strong military mission in Mali to support France in its war on the West African country.
During a Monday session, European Union foreign ministers formally approved the final phase in setting up the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) to purportedly train the Malian army.
According to reports, a first group of 70 EU military arrived in the West African country 10 days ago.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also said the military mission “is going to be of enormous importance” in so called support of the Malian army.
Some 16 countries from the EU as well as Norway have agreed to participate in the EUTM, which will have a 12.3-million-euro budget, with each country financing its own forces.
The 27-nation bloc accelerated its mission in Mali after France launched its war on Mali on January 11.
Paris launched its war on Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in the country. The war has left thousands of Malians homeless.
Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war.
On February 1, Amnesty International condemned “serious human rights breaches” including the killing of children in the French war in Mali.
The rights organization said there was “evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike” carried out by French forces against the local fighters.