US begins transporting French troops to Mali

By the Associated Press | January 23, 2013 | 3:32 AM EST

French foreign legionnaires take position outside Marakala, central Mali, some 240kms (140 miles) from Bamako Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. French troops in armored personnel carriers rolled through the streets of Diabaly on Monday, winning praise from residents of this besieged town after Malian forces retook control of it with French help a week after radical Islamists invaded. The Islamists also have deserted the town of Douentza, which they had held since September, according to a local official who said French and Malian forces arrived there on Monday as well. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

DJENNE, Mali (AP) — Pentagon officials say the U.S. airlift of French forces to Bamako could continue for another two weeks.

It's expected to take about 30 C-17 flights to get everything there.

The U.S. Air Force is keeping between eight and 10 people at the airport to help with the incoming and outgoing flights.

These are the U.S. Air Force personnel who will stay only until the airlift is completed.

The U.S. Air Force already has flown five C-17 flights into Bamako, delivering more than 80 French troops and 124 tons of equipment.

The U.S. is not providing direct aid to the Malian military because the democratically elected government was overthrown last March in a coup.

The French-led operation to oust Islamic extremists from northern Mali began Jan. 11.