Cheers from the people of Timbuktu as a convoy of French and Mali military goes through the town to set up check-points. A triumph for the combined effort of both armies which has effectively kicked Islamist fighters out of the ancient town. Without a shot being fired. The rebels - who ally themselves with Al-Qaeda - claim they're 'regrouping, not fleeing'. Semantics to the local people.

The rebels wreaked havoc and left a trail of destruction. Torching several buildings, including a priceless library filled with ancient documents and manuscripts.

Today the effort is stepping up. Nigerian armed forces joining the French and crossing into the border of Mali into the town of Ayorou. More than 100 tanks and trucks strong. And the British government is set to confirm that - as part of an EU mission - it's sending out troops to train French forces in Mali. The MOD has already helped fly French equipment out there and has contributed an intelligence gathering aircraft.

Written and presented by Marverine Cole