Top news: The Malian Army, assisted by French forces, has made its farthest push into territory controlled by Islamist rebels, taking the town of Hombori, which is 93 miles beyond the current line of control and 155 miles from the rebel stronghold of Gao. There are currently around 2,400 French troops in the country as well as 1,750 troops from seven African countries.
Ansar Dine, the main militant group in Northern Mali, has reportedly split into two. The new splinter group -- Islamic Movement for the Azawad -- says it will seek negotiations with the government and fight against its former allies. It will be at least the sixth group fighting in Northern Mali.
As Malian troops advance, accusations have emerged of summary executions and other abuses committed against suspected Islamist sympathizers. Witnesses have described an incident in which troops rounded up and killed those without national identity cards at a bus stop, around the time the French intervention began. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights has called for an investigation of the incident.
France's defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has admitted that "there's a risk" of abuses by Malian forces. Gen. Carter Ham, commander of the United States Africa Command says the Pentagon made mistakes in training Malian forces, failing to instill in them "values, ethics and a military ethos".
U.S. politics: Secretary of State nominee John Kerry passed smoothly through his Senate confirmation hearing.
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