About 1,000 forces from France, Mali and other African countries are now in the town of Bourem, according to a French military official.
France has repeated its troops will start leaving Mali in March, while officials confirmed new hostilities with Jihadist groups near the town of Gao.
French paratroopers have taken control of the airport and roads surrounding fabled Malian desert town of Timbuktu as Islamists flee.
French troops' initial clashes have shown that the desert fighters are better trained and equipped than France had expected before intervention.
Move comes as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius warns that the chaos in the African country is a risk for all of Europe.
President François Hollande has just become involved in a large-scale war in Mali. Already some 800 French troops are on the ground in the African country, with the number expected to increase to 2,500 in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile French aircraft have been carrying out strikes across the country. President Hollande sent in the troops last Friday, January 11th, after Mali's interim president made an urgent plea for help as Islamic rebels headed towards the country's capital. However, argues Mediapart's editor François Bonnet, the intervention has taken place in an impromptu manner, with shifting objectives, an unclear timetable and after having deliberately ignored the complex processes of political negotiations. As a result, he says, France finds itself alone without its European allies in a country that has completely fallen apart.
The rapidity of the intervention in Mali has revealed a man capable of bold and dangerous decisions but the fallout is potentially enormous.
Britain will provide transport planes to assist the French military operation in Mali, as France attempts to contain al Qaeda-linked rebels.
French president orders security to be stepped up around public buildings and transport because of military operations in Africa.
Arrival of the French forces dramatically ups stakes in conflict in a swath of lawless desert where terrorism and kidnapping have flourished.
President François Hollande makes plain that France will not defend Central African Republic’s government against advancing rebels.
Departure comes two years before a deadline for all NATO combat forces to withdraw, hastened by attacks and a change of government in Paris.
French defence minister promises that a software problem behind non-payment of salaries to French military will be fixed by Christmas.
France's decision to sharply accelerate troop departure from Afghanistan highlights potential cracks in the U.S.-led military coalition in the country.