French troops rushed to Mali at the weekend in a bid to retake the country's north from al-Qaida-linked militants.
France began an aerial assault on Friday after Malian President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo requested the help of the former colonial power following the rebel takeover of Konna.
West African regional group Ecowas said on Saturday it had authorised the immediate deployment of troops because of rebel advances. A UN-approved military intervention was due in September to give state institutions a chance to develop.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has offered to send aircraft to help transport troops and equipment, though no British troops will be engaged in conflict.
In addition to scrambling aircraft from nearby Chad, hundreds of French troops have gone into front-line combat.
Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria have all also agreed to send troops to help the government.
Troops have reportedly retaken Konna, having stopped a rebel advance to the key regional city of Mopti.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the result of Mopti and then Mali falling would be "a terrorist state at the doorstep of France and Europe."
French aircraft have targeted regional capital Gao in the heart of the rebel-held area.
Secular ethnic Tuaregs and Islamists mounted an insurgency before taking advantage of a power vacuum during a coup to seize northern Mali.
Al-Qaida-linked militants - many fleeing the fallout of the civil war in Libya - then ousted secularists, imposing a harsh form of Islamic law including amputations and stonings of "criminals."