The French authorities take great care in their communications to emphasize that they are intervening in Mali solely at the request of the interim President and to support the Malian army.

Thus, the French Ministry of Defence stated: "After seizing Gao on the night of 26-27 January, Operation Serval troops, in coordination with Malian units, took control of the airport tonight and gained access to the city of Timbuktu through an air-land maneuver."

However, the French press did not resort to such circumlocutions and simply reflected the colonial character of the intervention. Thus, Le Monde, the leading pro-government daily, candidly headlined: "French army takes Timbuktu" (edition dated 29 January 2013).