OTTAWA ó Canada is taking a baby step toward helping in the fight against Islamist forces in Mali.
The federal government announced Monday that a hulking C-17 transport plane will help carry military equipment into the capital, Bamako, for one week, on the request of France, which is looking for help in its fight against al-Qaida-linked forces in the African country.
France has taken the lead in a UN-mandated mission to push back against Islamists.
Harper says the Canadian Forces will not get involved in direct military action. However, he admitted this week's mission may not be the end of Canada's indirect involvement.
Canada already has a C-17 in the region after a small Canadian special operations team from CFB Petawawa recently flew to Niger, just east of Mali.
They'll get things ready for about two dozen Canadians who'll shepherd soldiers from Niger in a U.S.-led training exercise in Mauritania through February and March.