France's defense minister says hundreds of French troops are involved in an operation that destroyed a command center of Islamic rebels in Mali.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday that a French helicopter pilot died of his wounds in the operation, which involved air strikes on three rebel targets overnight.
The French president authorized the operation to support Mali's government after the Islamists launched an offensive outside the territory they had previously captured.
Le Drian said France was compelled to act quickly to stop the Islamist offensive, which he said could allow "a terrorist state at the doorstep of France and Europe."
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