WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Thursday that it was sending military trainers to African nations committed to dispatching troops to fight the Islamic militants in Mali.
The news came as more African troops were being sent in to join the Malian and French troops in combating the militants who are running the northern part of the country and heading southward.
"Just to advise that our first ACOTA teams are en route to Africa and they will be on the continent by the weekend to start that," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at a regular news briefing, adding they were not heading for Mali but the contributing nations to "prepare them for deployment."
The African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance ( ACOTA) program aims to train military trainers and equip African national militaries to carry out peace support operations and humanitarian relief.
France waded in Mali's conflict last week by launching air strikes on targets of the militants, a move that is advancing the deployment of African troops to the West African nation as envisaged by the UN Security Council.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington was still considering France's request for support as it shares the French goal of denying terrorists a safe haven in Mali and the region.
"We have some unique airlift capability and we are working with the French to provide them support in moving troops and equipment, " he said at a regular press briefing, noting Washington is providing intelligence support.
The bulk of the Africa-led intervention forces are expected to come from Nigeria, Niger, Senegal and Togo.