A resident in the northern Malian town of Gao described France's strike on the Mali rebel stronghold as a "bombardment".
– Gao resident Soumaila Maiga
Two helicopters are bombarding the positions of the Islamists, who are trying to fight back. The planes are so fast you only hear their sound in the sky.
A spokesman for Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine said French aircraft had also attacked its positions in the smaller towns of Lere and Douentza, further south.