UN Council approves ‘offensive’ peacekeepers for DR Congo

The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved the first-ever "offensive" UN peacekeeping brigade to battle rebels groups in Democratic Republic of Congo.

A council resolution gave the force of more than 2,500 troops orders to "neutralize" and "disarm" armed groups in the resource-rich east of the huge country, which has been gripped by conflict for more than two decades.

The intervention brigade and surveillance drones to monitor the DR Congo's borders with neighbors accused of backing the rebels will be operating by July, according to UN officials.

The force will launch UN peacekeeping operations into a new era, said diplomats who negotiated its preparation.

The resolution's mandate to conduct "targeted offensive operations" has never been given to a peacekeeping mission before, diplomats said.

The brigade and drones are part of a new UN campaign to end conflict in DR Congo's border regions with Rwanda and Uganda. Eleven African nations signed a UN-brokered accord last month pledging not to interfere in the affairs of their neighbors.

Rwanda, a temporary African member of the Security Council, joined the other 14 members in voting for the resolution.

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