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The U.N. Security Council was to discuss the conflict in Mali on Monday as a military offensive to wrest Islamic militants’ control over part of the country rages on, CNN reports. The meeting comes as more world bodies, including the United Kingdom and the United States, consider more support for the Malian government as it fights insurgents controlling the north.France has taken the international lead in assisting Mali, a former French colony.On Sunday, French military strikes targeted Islamist rebels, with both sides of the fight saying they were determined to win.French fighter jets bombed rebel training camps and other targets, France’s defense ministry said.“France’s goal is to lead a relentless struggle against terrorist groups, preventing any new offensive of these groups to the south of Mali,” the ministry said in a statement. France has several hundred ground troops in Mali, where they may soon be joined by hundreds of troops from nearby African nations. Islamist rebels in Mali acknowledged Sunday they suffered heavy losses in fights with the country’s military and French troops – but said it wouldn’t stop them. “This is a holy war. The deaths are normal,” Sanda Ould Boumama, spokesman for the al Qaeda-linked rebel group Ansar Dine, said. “Our fighters are prepared to die for our cause.”One of Ansar Dine’s lieutenants, Iyad Ag Ghaly, was killed in the fight over the central town of Konna, security sources said.Insurgents took the town Thursday but retreated the next day after a combined air and ground assault. Konna has been the de facto line of government control. “The war has only started,” Boumama said. “We expect more casualties.” He accused the French military of attacking Malians. “Now the world can see that it’s the French who are the real terrorists,” he said. But French and Malian military officials say the assaults are against rebel strongholds, not civilians. Bodies lay on a road between the town and Islamist base, said Vieux Dada, a teacher in Gao. “I believe they were Islamist fighters who tried to flee,” he said.Mali’s military has suffered heavy losses in previous clashes, including 11 soldiers killed and about 60 wounded in the battle for Konna, according to a government statement read on state TV.Additionally, a French helicopter pilot died while taking part Friday afternoon in an aerial operation targeting a terrorist group moving on the town of Mopti, near Konna, Le Drian said.A French colony until 1960, Mali had military rulers for decades until its first democratic elections in 1992. It remained stable politically until March, when a group of soldiers toppled the government, saying it had not provided adequate support for them to fight ethnic Tuareg rebels in the country’s largely desert north.