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article imageUN-Backed force attacks Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern Congo

By Christopher Szabo     Mar 4, 2010 in World
Kinshasa - Congo and the UN peacekeeping force, MONUC, have begun an offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Reuters news agency reports the operation will eventually involve 18 battalions of the DRC’s army, the FARDC, along with UN forces. MONUC head, Alan Doss, said:
The first joint operations began at the weekend against FDLR (rebel) centres.
Doss explained the operations would be aimed at the DRC’s conflict-ridden North and South Kivu provinces. MONUC will provide rations, logistics and Casevac (Casualty Evacuation) assistance. The report said two battalions were already engaged with rebels of the Hutu FDLR militia, whose core was the Interahamwe, which is blamed for the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The DRC’s minister of information, Lambert Mende told Reuters:
We cannot give out the figures of injured or dead while operations are ongoing, but it is going very very well and they (the FDLR) are on the defensive.
MONUC is currently the largest UN peacekeeping force, with about 20,000 uniformed personnel. It has been in DRC since the 1998-2003 civil war in which millions of people died.
Mende said not all the 18 battalions were ready for action yet. He said:
We are still selecting the 18 battalions but we have started the operations because the units judged it was the right time.
MONUC is under pressure from DRC’s government to give a specific withdrawal plan before the country celebrates its 50th independence anniversary from Belgium on 30. June.
Congo has insisted that all MONUC forces leave the country by June 2011.
Alain Le Roy, head of UN peacekeeping missions told the media in the capital, Kinshasa, that the UN would form a working group with Congo to discuss the details of the withdrawal. He said:
For now there is no date but of course everyone has a date in their head.
MONUC’s mandate runs out at the end of May this year.
More about Rebels, Congo, East, Drc, Rwanda
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