Conservative MP John Baron has expressed his fears that the UK could be drawn into an "ever deepening conflict" in Mali and the wider region.
He said Afghanistan illustrated the danger of being "sucked into larger deployments, the mission itself changed".
He asked the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to clarify the exact role of British troops.
In response, Mr Hammond said: "The UK has a clear interest in the stability of Mali and ensuring that its territory does not become an ungoverned space.".
"The role of British troops is clearly not a combat role and will not extend as we envisage at the moment to a force protection role".
"We are looking for force protection arrangements to be put in place probably by the French".
Throughout ten months of Islamist rule, the people of Timbuktu risked their lives to preserve the artefacts of their ancient heritage.
Francois Hollande is due to visit Timbuktu during his visit to the West African country this weekend. He will be welcomed by many.
Downing Street have been explaining what offers the UK have made to the military effort in Mali.