The European Union has approved a training mission. The Canadians and British are deploying military transport aircraft. Nigeria is set to deploy soldiers as part of a U.N.-mandated African force to fight the insurgents.
U.S. policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because the fledgling government is a result of a coup. No support can go to the Malian military directly until leaders are chosen through an election, said Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman.
"We are not in a position to train the Malian military until we have democracy restored," she said this week. "But we're not precluded from assisting allies and partners in trying to restore security to that country."
So far, the United States has only shared intelligence from satellites and intercepted signals with the French, defense officials said. The Pentagon is also considering sending refueling tankers so that French jets can fly longer, more sustained combat missions, according to the officials.
U.S. trainers will be in African nations to train forces that are set to be deployed in Mali.
"We have deployed 100-ish, about 100 trainers to Africa. They're traveling to Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Ghana to discuss training and equipping and deployment needs of those countries in the interest of getting them ready to go into Mali," she said.
U.N. says warring threatens cultural heritage
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has issued calls for the protection of cultural heritage sites in Mali.
The ancient city of Timbuktu is a UNESCO World Heritage site of huge cultural significance, but its carefully preserved heritage has come under severe threat amid the ongoing conflict.
The fabled city, whose name is sometimes used in the West as a synonym for a faraway place, was at the center of trans-Sahara trade in earlier times. Last year, al Qaeda-linked rebels in northern Mali destroyed historic and religious landmarks there, claiming such relics are idolatrous. Now it is threatened by warfare.
"I ask all armed forces to make every effort to protect the cultural heritage of the country, which has already been severely damaged," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in an appeal to all combatants.
"Mali's cultural heritage is a jewel whose protection is important for the whole of humanity. This is our common heritage, nothing can justify damaging it."
The U.N. refugee agency said that in treks that began last year, when the crisis started, Malians are fleeing to other nations, including Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, Guinea, Algeria and Togo, and many are internally displaced.
Refugees in Burkina Faso said "they fled the recent military intervention, the lack of any means of subsistence, and fear of the strict application of Sharia law," the agency said.
People talked about family members disappearing.
"They reported having witnessed executions and amputations, and mentioned that large amounts of money are being offered to civilians to fight against the Malian Army and its supporters. According to the accounts from refugees there are children among the rebel fighters," the United Nations said.
Ethnic Tuareg women and children are among the latest refugees.
"They said that more people, including their husbands and fathers, are on their way to Burkina Faso by foot, many using donkeys or local transport, and many bringing livestock with them. Despite ongoing insecurity in northern Mali in recent months, they say that people have delayed fleeing Mali to allow the men to take care of businesses and animals," the United Nations said.
Human rights abuses