BAMAKO, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Mali army says its has recaptured the central towns of Konna and Douentza with the backing of reinforcement, especially air support.
The army took back Konna just a few hours after losing it to rebels, a military source told Xinhua on Thursday night.
"The army intervened through an aerial intervention, before advancing further" at 8:00 p.m. local time, the source said after a whole day of heavy fighting with the rebels who managed to take control of Konna on Thursday Afternoon.
Meanwhile, he said the town of Douentza was also captured on Thursday night by the Malian army.
Well placed sources told Xinhua that the military intervention was conducted by three planes, including one from the capital Bamako and two of the French army from the town of Sevare in Mali's Mopti region.
There is an international airport in Sevare, which was exposed to the front after the fall of Konna to rebels.
Douentza was seized on Sept. 1, 2012 by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which forms a rebel coalition with AQIM and Ansar Dine in the north.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, another rebel group seeking an "independent state of Azawad" in the north, has been maginalized soon after rebels occupied northern Mali.
Confrontations erupted days ago after the Malian government and Ansar Dine failed to reach any deal in talks on a solution to the Mali crisis.
The rival sides have been battling since Wednesday night in the region of Mopti, which is 70 km and 145 km away from Konna and Douentza respectively.
While the rebels are vowing to push south, the army is making a show of strength ahead of a planned military intervention in the north by a 3,500-strong standby force led by the 15-member West African bloc ECOWAS.
The clash is the latest between the army and the rebels since the latter occupied the north in the aftermath of a military coup on March 22, 2012.
The UN Security Council has approved the intervention plan submitted by ECOWAS.
Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa AQIM is considered a major threat in the Sahel region. The military intervention plan was drawn up out of fear that northern Mali could become a safe haven for terrorism and drug and human trafficking.