From VOA Learning English, this is IN THE NEWS in Special English.
France joined African forces this week in an effort to oust Islamic militants in northern Mali. The militants have progressively moved south. At the request of the Malian government, France earlier launched an air offensive against the militants. France is Mali's former colonial ruler.
Then France launched a ground offensive, along with forces of Mali and the Economic Community of West African States, called ECOWAS. Islamic extremists seized control of northern Mali after Malian soldiers ousted the government last March.
French troops have faced strong resistance from the Islamic force, said to be a well-organized coalition of militant groups. One of the Islamist groups leading the coalition is Ansar Dine, which means "Defenders of Faith." The group follows a form of Islam known as Salafism. It seeks to rule Mali under a severe form of Sharia law.
Ansar Dine had joined with ethnic Tuareg rebels last April to oust government forces in northern Mali. In June, Ansar Dine turned its weapons against the lesser-armed Tuareg fighters and seized control of the area.
Since taking over the north, the group has joined forces with two area militant groups. They are al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa.
The Islamists have used several methods to develop into a fighting force that surprised French officials with its skills. An expert at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Bill Roggio, said the militants secured their weapons from neighboring Libya.
Mister Roggio also said the militants seized rocket launchers and armed vehicles from the Malian army. The militants have earned millions of dollars by kidnapping foreigners and taking part in the drug trade.
In November the African Union approved plans for a West African military force to deploy to Mali. The plans were approved in December by the United Nations Security Council. France says 1,400 French soldiers were deployed to Mali. More than 1,000 more are expected in the next few days.
Armed vehicles arrived earlier this week from Ivory Coast. On Thursday, 100 soldiers from Togo also arrived. The Togolese were the first of the West African forces to come to Mali. ECOWAS plans to send as many as 3,300 troops into the nation.
Islamic militants made gains by capturing the southern and central towns of Diabaly and Konna. On Friday, the Malian army and French officials reported that Malian troops regained control of the town of Konna.
The U.N. refugee agency says it expects up to 700,000 more people to flee their homes in Mali because of the fighting. Helene Caux, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR in West Africa says she hears reports that many people are fleeing the conflict.
"What we have at the moment are testimonies from people who are crossing to Burkina (Faso), to Niger, to Mauritania and what they are telling us is that more people are on their way. Actually, more people are on their way by foot."
THE U.N. refugee agency says it is working hard to increase help for the growing numbers of refugees and people displaced inside the country.
1.progressively adv. 渐进地；日益增多地
That would bring sufficient size for it to become the most important bond market in Europe, progressively reaching a liquidity comparable to that of US Treasuries.
2.resistance n. 阻力；抵抗；反抗；抵抗力
Where there is oppression there is resistance.
本周，法国和非洲军队联合起来努力驱逐马里北部的伊斯兰武装分子，这些武装分子一路向南挺进 。早些时候，应马里政府的请求，法国向武装分子发起了空袭 。法国曾是马里的殖民者 。
面对法国军队，这支伊斯兰军队负隅顽抗，据说这是一支组织精良的军事组织联盟 。领导该联盟的一个组织名叫“伊斯兰后卫”，意思是“信仰捍卫者” 。该组织遵循萨拉菲主义，是伊斯兰教的一支，希望通过严格的伊斯兰教法来统治马里 。
自控制北方以来，该组织就与两大地区军事组织联合起来 。它们分别是伊斯兰马格里布的基地组织和西非的团结和圣战运动 。
这些伊斯兰组织使用多种策略，发展为一支战斗力量，其技巧令法国官员惊讶 。比尔·罗吉欧是总部在华盛顿的捍卫民主基金会的一名专家，他说武装分子从邻国利比亚获取武器 。
11月，非盟批准向马里派遣西非军队的计划，联合国安理会12月批准了该计划 。法国称已在马里部署了1400名法国士兵，未来几天还派遣另外1000多名 。
本周早些时候，装甲车从科特迪瓦抵达马里，周四，100名士兵也从多哥赶到这里，他们是首批抵达马里的西非军队 。ECOWAS计划向马里调集3300名士兵 。
伊斯兰武装分子获取了南部和中部的Diabaly和康纳镇，取得了重大进展 。周五，马里军队和法国官方报道称，马里军队夺回了康纳镇 。
联合国难民机构称约有70万马里人因战乱流离失所，西非联合国难民署的女发言人Helene Caux说有报道称很多人在逃难 。