Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday that U.S. was committed to helping France contain Islamist rebels in Mali, the New York Times reports:
Defense officials would not rule out the possibility that American military transport planes might land in Mali, where the United States has been conducting an ambitious counterterrorism program for years. American spy planes and surveillance drones are in the meantime trying to get a sense of the chaos on the ground. The defense officials would not discuss whether the United States has armeddrone aircraft over Mali.
But Mr. Panetta, who spoke to reporters on his plane en route to Portugal for a weeklong trip Europe, said that the chaos in Mali was of deep concern to the administration and praised the French for their actions. He also said “ what we have promised them is that we would work with them, to cooperate with them, to provide whatever assistance we can to try to help them in that effort.”
Rebels seized the town of Diabali earlier today.