"We control the airport Timbuktu. We did not encounter any serious resistance. Capture of the city poses no problem, "- said the representative of the Malian army correspondent of the French newspaper Le Monde.
Capturing Timbuktu airport and blocking a major city in the north of Mali was one more step in the operation "Serval" that the French soldiers carried out together with the Malian army. The aim of the operation is to capture the so-called "loop Niger" — African section of the river, which connects the cities of Timbuktu and Gao, said in Paris spokesman for the French Defense, Colonel Thierry Burhar. Gao fell on January 26, and now it is the turn of Timbuktu.
Victory at Timbuktu was the result of a carefully planned operation, claim the French military. First aviation units attacked the terrorists clusters south of the city. After that, a large motorized columns French and Malians struck the road Diabali-Nera-Gund, which connects the regions of Timbuktu to the south and center of the country.
On the flanks covered column helicopters that tracked down in the desert scattered groups of Islamists. In the rear of the French special forces were paratroopers, who were ready to hit the detected concentrations of insurgents.
Islamists movements "Ansar al-Din" and "al-Qaida in West Africa" was not a battle with heavily armed units of the French army. They moved across the river Niger.
Despite the successes of the French army, the situation in the city of Timbuktu remains unclear: in the morning on January 28 it was reported that he was taken, but as of 15:00 MSK French and Malians spoke only about taking the airport to the south of the city. According to recent reports, the Islamists fled in panic from one of the largest centers of Mali.
Before fleeing radicals destroyed cultural monuments and burnt thousands of Islamic manuscripts, which were stored in several institutes in the center of Timbuktu. In the Middle Ages the city was a center of education in the area of sub-Saharan Africa: here lived and worked several prominent writers and philosophers. In the XX century, they were kept in the manuscript heritage institutions and libraries.
Islamists do not recognize the heritage of Islamic philosophers in late January 2012, they destroyed the graves of educators Timbuktu. Now, before fleeing, they destroy the manuscript, which had been stored in the stacks and institutions.
The French army has operations in Mali in December 2012. Paris sent troops to Central Africa after the Bamako government asked France for help. In January 2013, French troops and army soldiers conducted Operation Mali "Serval", in which they are completely cleared of Islamic Center of Mali. Now they crowd of Islamists in the Sahara sands.