August 29, 2013

DRC Forces Advance As UN Deploys Helicopters Against M23 Rebels

The DR Congo government army is said to be gaining an upper hand in the battle against the M23 after the UN forces deployed attack helicopters and their infantry against the rebels.

The rebels, who have been fighting the Kinshasa government since April 2012, came under fire in their positions at Kibati, Kinyarucinya and Mutaho, which have been their strongholds since they pulled out of Goma in November.

A new UN brigade has the mandate to neutralise and disarm the rebels.
A new UN brigade has the mandate to neutralise and disarm the rebels.

Lieutenant Colonel Felix Basse, the UN forces spokesperson in the DRC, says they will continue to hit the M23 rebel positions in an effort to stop them from making an advance on Goma.

The fighting, which had on Monday this week died down temporarily, resumed on Wednesday with Kinshasa government sending in more reinforcements to support their forces who are said to have suffered heavy casualties.

A joint operation against the M23 rebels started on August 21 after weeks of tension over plans by the rebels to attack Goma, the regional commercial centre in the North Kivu province.

DRC government army spokesperson Olivier Hamuli told local media that the relaxation of the fighting was not a ceasefire but a military tactic.

He says that the government forces or FARDC have managed to dislodge the rebels from the frontline positions in areas of Kibati and Mutaho adding that holding these key positions has been posing a big threat to the city of Goma.

The M23 president Bertrand Bisiimwa told local media on phone from Bunagana that the coalition of UN brigade and DRC forces has been attacking their territory, but that the rebels are in position to defend themselves.

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