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Belgium to send support craft to Mali

Brussels - The Belgian government on Tuesday decided to deploy two C-130 Hercules transport aeroplanes and two rescue helicopters to support France's military intervention in Mali, Defence Minister Pieter De Crem told the Belga news agency.

An assessment will be carried out in late February or early March to determine how long Belgium's involvement should last, De Crem said following a cabinet meeting in Brussels.

French Rafale fighter jets taxi on the runway after landing in Ndjamena, Chad before their deployment in Mali, in this picture provided by the French Military Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and taken on January 13, 2013. Photo taken January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Adj. Nicolas-Nelson Richard/ECPAD/Handout. Credit: REUTERS

The transport aircraft will be operational by Friday, according to Belga. It had earlier quoted military sources as saying that at least one of the planes would make a stop on the French island of Corsica to load military equipment before heading to Mali. - Sapa-dpa

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