French troops stand guard along the road leading from Markala to Niono in central Mali on Wednesday as they pressed northward toward territory occupied by radical Islamists. In announcing the start of the land assault, military officials said soldiers would be in direct combat "within hours." (Associated Press)

Photo by: Harouna Traore

French troops stand guard along the road leading from Markala to Niono in central Mali on Wednesday as they pressed northward toward territory occupied by radical Islamists. In announcing the start of the land assault, military officials said soldiers would be in direct combat "within hours." (Associated Press)