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Chad to send troops to help stabilize Mali after French air strikes against Islamist rebels

The north-central African nation of Chad is sending troops to help Mali battle radical Islamist insurgents who control a vast swath of territory along the Sahara's southern rim.

France — the former colonial power in both countries — in recent days has deployed hundreds of troops and carried out air strikes against the al-Qaida-linked rebels who have controlled northeastern Mali for nine months.

Political experts have been closely watching how Chad might participate in an African force in Mali because Chad has troops used to northern Mali's terrain and climate.

The Chadian presidency's Web site said President Idriss Deby Itno said Wednesday that Chad would send a "contingent" to Mali, without specifying the number of soldiers or when they would arrive. Chad's parliament approved the deployment.