Rome - Italy says it is prepared to offer logistical support for air operations against Islamic extremists in Mali.
Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola told the Senate on Wednesday that the logistical support was confined to air operations, not ground operations.
French ground troops on Wednesday pressed northward in Mali toward territory occupied for months by Islamist militants in the start of a land assault that came after five days of airstrikes did little to erode Islamist gains.
The ground assault reversed France's earlier insistence that it would provide only air and logistical support for a military intervention led by African troops.
On Tuesday, representatives from the Group of Eight met and said it was "essential" to halt the offensive by the militants.