BAMAKO, Mali – The spokesman for the Malian military confirms that the army is preparing for an assault on Kidal, the last rebel-held town in northern Mali.
Lt. Col. Souleymane Maiga refused to give a timeline, saying only that preparations for the deployment are "in an advanced stage."
Kidal is currently controlled by Tuareg separatists from the NMLA rebel group. The NMLA swept into northern Mali last year. They were soon ousted by al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists. In January, France launched an operation to help Mali take back the north. Though they purged the main towns of the al-Qaida groups, they failed to stop the NMLA from returning to Kidal, which they now control.
The NMLA has vowed to fight the Malian military should its troops try to enter Kidal.