Germany to Send 330 Support Troops to Mali

BERLIN -- Germany's cabinet on Tuesday approved the deployment of up to 330 troops to Mali as part of an EU military training mission and to provide air transport, sources told dpa.

Up to 180 troops will help train the army of the west African country as it seeks to secure the country's vast desert north which was overrun early last year by Islamist militants.

Another 150 German troops are being sent as crew to fly transport and refuelling aircraft to back up a Franco-Malian mission launched on January 11 against the militants.

Germany, which in the post-World War II era has usually been reluctant to send its soldiers into conflict zones, has stressed its forces will not join in the combat operations.

The German legislature, the Bundestag, will from Friday discuss the deployment. Germany's major parties have spoken out in favour of the operation.

In all, the EU plans to send 450 military trainers. The German contingent will include engineers and medical personnel.

Germany several weeks ago deployed three aircraft and 70 forces to help fly troops from other African countries to Mali to join a regional intervention force to secure the north.

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