A Malian soldier stands guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traor

 

              A Malian  soldier stands guard on the military side of  Bamako
A Malian soldier stands guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. French troops pressed northward in Mali toward territory occupied by radical Islamists on Wednesday, military officials said, announcing the start of a land assault that will put soldiers in direct combat "within hours." (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)