(Reuters) - Here are some details on the foreign military forces building up in Mali as part of “Operation Serval” to stop Islamist rebels linked to al Qaeda expanding their power base beyond the north of the country.
* FRANCE - Around 1,400 troops are deployed in Mali, including infantry companies responsible for ensuring the safety of 6,000 French nationals who live there, especially in Bamako. The French force is expected to reach 2,500. France is using Harfang surveillance drones to guide its strikes and plans to use Tiger attack helicopters alongside the Rafale and Mirage jet fighters already in action.
* TRAINING - European Union states agreed on Thursday to send some 200 to 250 military personnel to train Mali government forces, expected from mid-February.
* TRANSPORT - Germany is to provide two Transall military planes to transport West African troops. Britain has already supplied two giant C-17 military transport planes. Belgium sent 35 troops, two C-130 “Hercules” military transport aircraft with an Augusta A-109 medical helicopter on board.
* ECOWAS - ECOWAS will support the French mission with an emergency deployment of some 2,000 troops in the coming days, the first of which will arrive on Thursday.
The first units to reach Bamako are expected to come from Nigeria and Togo. A U.N.-mandated intervention plan had foreseen some 3,300 troops, expected on the ground by around September, but pledges from African nations now exceed that number.
Troop commitments from African countries are: Chad 2,000; Nigeria 900; Burkina Faso 500; Niger 500; Senegal 500; Togo 500; Benin 300; Guinea 144; Ghana 120.
Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Mark Heinrich