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U.N. gives Congo brigade license to go on offensive

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council authorized a new “intervention brigade” for Congo on Thursday with an unprecedented mandate of military action against rebel groups to help bring peace to the country's conflict-wracked east.

The resolution, which the council adopted unanimously, gives the brigade a mandate to carry out offensive operations alone or with Congolese army troops to neutralize and disarm armed groups.

The brigade is unprecedented in U.N. peacekeeping because of its offensive mandate. The resolution, however, states clearly that it would be established for one year “on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent” to the principles of U.N. peacekeeping.

The resolution, sponsored by France, the United States and Togo, would give the brigade a mandate to operate “in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner” to ensure that armed groups can't seriously threaten government authority or the security of civilians.

U.S. deputy ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis said coordination between the military and civilian sides of the U.N mission remains crucial to ensuring the protection of women and children, “and to prevent the continuation of the horrible streak of sexual violence” in the Congo.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall welcomed the resolution's adoption as an important step toward peace and a time when the women of eastern Congo “no longer need to fear sexual violence and children are protected from the impact of conflict.”

Mineral-rich eastern Congo has been engulfed in fighting since the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which at least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias.

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