On 29 January the Government announced that up to 400 British troops will be sent to Mali to help the French intervention, and maybe for over a year.
The French troops have now taken control of all three main towns in the north-west of Mali, and the French government talks of withdrawing soon.
Full French withdrawal any time soon still remains unlikely. The Islamist militias have retreated from the towns to the desert, rather than being defeated in combat.
A stable and widely-accepted political settlement in Mali is still remote.