ABIDJAN, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS vows to salvage Mali from northern rebels while urging member states to contribute troops without "further delay."
Cote d'Ivoire's President Alassane Ouattara, who holds the current presidency of the bloc, told a day-long summit here on Saturday that the West African force would obtain its goal to free Mali from rebels linked to Al-Qaida.
The extraordinary summit of ECOWAS was held to facilitate the deployment of regional troops on the ground in support of Malian and French forces battling rebels in central and northern regions.
The situation "has sounded the hour for an engagement" which is larger and more powerful and involves more member states in "the total war" against "the terrorism in Mali," he said.
At the conclusion of the summit, the final communique urged member states to get ready their contingents "without further delay" and honor their promises.
At the closing ceremony, Ouattara signed a decision to allow the bloc to requisition troops in member states for deployment to Mali.
ECOWAS is mobilizing 3,300 soldiers for an Africa-led mission in Mali after the UN Security Council approved its deployment plan in December 2012.
Reports once expected the earliest possible time to carry out the plan in September 2013 due to time consuming preparations for training and logistics.
The rebels, however, moved south early in the month, taking the central town of Konna and threatening the capital Bamako.
France intervened in its former colony more than a week ago, sending warplanes to bomb rebel positions.
With the support of French troops, the Malian government forces have recaptured Konna. Authorities say rebels in Diabali, about 360 km northeast of Bamako, have been surrounded by Malian and French forces.
The rebels of AQIM, Al-Qaida's North African branch, launched a counter-offensive from the west along the border with Mauritania and briefly seized Diabali, a town even closer to Bamako. The rebels fled out of town after an overnight airstrike.
France vows to increase its troops to 2,500 in Mali, where its has already 2,000 armymen.
By far, several ECOWAS countries have offered soldiers to the African mission, including Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The ECOWAS summit declared an "urgent deployment" of troops from Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, of which Nigerian and Togolese continents have already arrived in Mali.
Chad, which is not a member of ECOWAS, has also pledged to contribute to the Africa-led mission in Mali to restore its territorial integrity.
The rebels swept through northern Mali in the aftermath of a military coup on March 22, 2012.