France's fighting forces in Africa
The French troops now engaged in Mali are based in Chad and Ivory Coast and are from among the thousands of soldiers France maintains on a permanent basis in several African nations.
They number around 5,000 but France wants to bring this down to 4,100 next year.
Here is a summary of France's Africa deployments, according to the defence ministry.
DJIBOUTI: The Horn of Africa nation is home to France's biggest overseas military base, with a permanent deployment of 1,400 men. Currently 1,900 are based here.
French forces based in Djibouti have over the past 15 years been involved in numerous operations including helping victims of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, and missions in the Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast.
They also help European efforts against Somali pirates.
GABON: About 900 French soldiers are stationed in Gabon. The force is able to provide rapid air support for any regional emergency.
CHAD: About 950 men are stationed in Chad under an ongoing French military mission that started in 1986.
SENEGAL: Some 350 French troops are based in Senegal, from where they run training missions to countries in the Sahel region, notably Niger, Mali and Mauritania.
IVORY COAST: Deployed as part of Operation Unicorn since 2002, about 450 men are currently stationed in Ivory Coast. Their main mission is to support the United Nations peacekeeping force.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: About 200 troops are usually deployed here but owing to a new rebel push Paris has boosted the number to 580.
Additionally, France has a permanent military base in its south Indian Ocean overseas territories, Reunion and Mayotte, where about 1,900 troops are based.
© 2013 AFP