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Fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. (Associated Press)

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Fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. (Associated Press)

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The French military moves in at the airport in Bamako, Mali. Islamists prevented residents from leaving the towns they are holding, and some fear they will be used as human targets. (Associated Press)

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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)

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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)

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Legionnaires of France's 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment, based in Orange, France, deploy at the airport in Bamako, Mali. An official at France's Defense Ministry says the country will "gradually deploy" a total of 2,500 troops to Mali, and the French president says the military operation will last until security has been restored and African forces are ready to take charge. (AP Photo/Arnaud Roine, French Army Communications Audiovisual Office [ECPAD])

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Mali Fighting_Lea.jpg

Legionnaires of France's 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment, based in Orange, France, deploy at the airport in Bamako, Mali. An official at France's Defense Ministry says the country will "gradually deploy" a total of 2,500 troops to Mali, and the French president says the military operation will last until security has been restored and African forces are ready to take charge. (AP Photo/Arnaud Roine, French Army Communications Audiovisual Office [ECPAD])

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Soldiers man a checkpoint at a bridge in Markala, approximately 40 km outside Segou on the road to Diabaly, in central Mali, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore)

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Soldiers man a checkpoint at a bridge in Markala, approximately 40 km outside Segou on the road to Diabaly, in central Mali, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore)

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British soldiers gather next to a French army truck inside a British transport plane at a base in Evreux on Monday, part of Britain's authorization over the weekend to send two C-17 transport planes to help France get more troops to Mali. (Associated Press)

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British soldiers gather next to a French army truck inside a British transport plane at a base in Evreux on Monday, part of Britain's authorization over the weekend to send two C-17 transport planes to help France get more troops to Mali. (Associated Press)

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france-mali-fighting_lea2_mugshot_four_by_three.jpg

A French airman (center) talks with British military personnel at the French army base in Evreux, 56 miles north of Paris, on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, before the takeoff the British C17 transport plane en route to Mali. British military equipment was readied for deployment in Mali on Monday as international intervention in the African country increased following advances in the north by Islamic extremists with reported links to al Qaeda. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

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France Mali Fighting_Lea(2).jpg

A French airman (center) talks with British military personnel at the French army base in Evreux, 56 miles north of Paris, on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, before the takeoff the British C17 transport plane en route to Mali. British military equipment was readied for deployment in Mali on Monday as international intervention in the African country increased following advances in the north by Islamic extremists with reported links to al Qaeda. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

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French soldiers of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment board a plane for Bamako, the Mali capital, at N'Djamena's airport in Chad on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaeda-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, French Army Communications Audiovisual Office [ECPAD])

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France Mali Fighting_Lea.jpg

French soldiers of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment board a plane for Bamako, the Mali capital, at N'Djamena's airport in Chad on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaeda-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, French Army Communications Audiovisual Office [ECPAD])

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**FILE** Fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard Aug. 31, 2012, in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. (Associated Press)

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Mali Fighting_Live.jpg

**FILE** Fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard Aug. 31, 2012, in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. (Associated Press)

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**FILE** In this Aug. 31, 2012 file photo, fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. (Associated Press)

Mali Fighting_Live.jpg

Mali Fighting_Live.jpg

** FILE ** Fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. (Associated Press)

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**FILE** Women wearing veils, as mandated by Islamist group Ansar Dine, walk along a street in Timbuktu, Mali, on Oct. 18, 2012. (Associated Press