Mali and French troops have joined forces to take back Hombori from the Islamist rebels. (Google Images)

BBC Africais reporting that Malian and French troops have retaken the town of Hombori, officials say, as they continue their campaign to regain control of northern Mali from rebels. The article states:

Hombori lies about 160km (100 miles) from the Islamist stronghold of Gao. Earlier, French warplanes reportedly bombed rebel positions, fuel stores and ammunition dumps near Gao.

But there were also reports that rebels had blown up a bridge linking the east of the country with Niger, from where African troops plan to open a front.

The bridge is situated in the town of Tassiga, which lies on the quickest route from Niger to Gao, and spans a canyon. However, Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanate, a former deputy in Mali’s parliament, said the bridge was not the only way to cross the canyon.

“You can make a detour of three to six miles (5-10km) and find another way to continue on the Niger-Gao road,” he said, quoted by AP news agency.

Forces from Niger and Chad had been expected to use the road to join the advance against the rebels.

Several African countries have pledged military aid to help the Malian government win back control of the north.

The U.K.’s defense minister has announced that it was deploying its Sentinel R1 spy plane to support French troops in Mali.

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