French soldiers in a jeep mounted with a machine gun leave a base camp on Jan. 22 in Mali. (Fred Dufour / AFP via Getty Images)
ROME — Italy said on Jan. 22 that it will send three planes to Mali to help support French and Malian troops battling Islamist rebels after parliament gave the green light for a two- to three-month logistical mission.
Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola said Italy would send “two C-130 transport planes and a 767 plane for refueling.” He had earlier said the transport planes will be used to ship troops and equipment from neighboring countries offering assistance to Mali.
Between 15 and 24 Italian instructors will also be sent as part of a European mission to help train Malian troops.
Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Jan. 22 that Italy was “not only engaged in the fight against terrorism but also in the stabilization and development of the Sahel” region and “couldn’t not take part in the Mali operation”.
“Mali is going through a serious crisis which renders necessary the support of the international community to avoid the country plunging for good into a situation... worse than in Somalia and Afghanistan,” he said.