Armed men patrol the streets of a city in northern Mali. (file photo)
The African Union has called on NATO to join AU forces in a mission in Mali to help fight the militants in the northern part of the country.
"NATO should play a part (in Mali), and the African force would lead the way as was done by NATO in Afghanistan," AU Chairman Thomas Boni Yayi said at a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa on Tuesday.
However, Harper said, "The Canadian government is not considering a direct military mission… Obviously we are very concerned about the situation, and the development of essentially an entire terrorist region is of grave concern to everybody in the international community."
In December 2012, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of foreign military forces in Mali to help the Malian government battle the militants controlling the northern part of the West African country.
The 15-member Security Council authorized an initial one-year deployment of African Union forces in the country.
The resolution, drafted by France, also authorized all European Union member states to help rebuild Mali's security forces.
Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists pushed them aside and wrested control of all the northern desert regions, which are larger than France or Texas.