WASHINGTON, Jan 23, 2013 — Pentagon Press Secretary George Little today praised French allies and said the United States will continue providing intelligence and airlift support against an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Mali.
"We commend the French for their actions in Mali to confront an extremist threat in that country," Little told reporters. "We stand by our French allies and will … continue to work with [them] to determine what their future needs might be."
As of today, Little said, the U.S. Air Force has flown five C-17 sorties moving about 80 French troops and more than 124 tons of supplies and equipment into Mali.
"We’ve provided information in support of the French since their operations began in Mali, … and we continue to consult with the French on further steps that we may take as U.S. government to support their efforts in Mali," he said.
Little also noted that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has for years been "very clear" in his stance on al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a Mali-based militant organization, and other branches of al-Qaida.
"We need to go after al-Qaida wherever they are around the world," he said, echoing Panetta's remarks.
Since operations began in the region, the United States has "moved quickly to provide intelligence and airlift as part of a deliberate effort" to consult with France and assess how the U.S. can best support among other countries, Little said.
"This is truly an international effort, French-led, but a number of countries are providing support in the effort, including the United States," he added.