The United States will help transport African Union peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic as part of a French-led intervention to restore security following an outbreak of inter-religious violence in the country.
The United States military will help transport African Union peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic as part of a broader French-led intervention to help restore security to the country after a devastating outbreak of inter-religious violence last week.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was in Qatar on a tour of the Middle East, ordered that forces be escorted from Burundi to the Central African Republic in coordination with France, his spokesman said in a statement.
Hollande to visit CAR
French President François Hollande will travel to the conflict-torn Central African Republic on Tuesday following a memorial service for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Hollande's office has announced.
French troops are taking part in a UN-backed military operation along with African forces aimed at halting inter-religious violence in the country.
The Pentagon will make two C-17 planes available to transport roughly 850 Burundian soldiers, a US defense official said on condition of anonymity, adding that there were hopes the operation would begin Tuesday.
The mission to airlift the troops and equipment should be completed in a matter of days, the official said.
Hagel took the decision after conferring by phone on Sunday with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who requested "limited" US military assistance to support the international effort, Defense Department spokesman Carl Woog said.
"In the near term, France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic," Woog said.
US joins international effort
"The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region," the US said in a statement.
Unrest in Central African Republic as rebels disarmed
The US would look to provide "additional resources" if needed, the statement said, without offering any further details.
The US previously deployed about 100 special forces in African to help Ugandan forces track infamous warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters.
The announcement from the Pentagon came as French troops on Monday started disarming fighters in the country amid mounting fears of a possible genocide.
In addition to the French contingent on the ground, the African Union plans to bolster a regional force to 6,000 troops from an initially planned 3,600.
The Pentagon offered similar assistance during the French intervention in Mali, providing cargo aircraft and intelligence.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2013-12-09