REUTERS - The U.N. Security Council on Monday backed a recent military offensive by Uganda, Congo and southern Sudan against the Lord's Resistance Army.
Forces from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan launched a joint assault on LRA leader Joseph Kony's base in eastern Congo on Dec. 14 after he repeatedly failed to sign a 2006 peace accord.
The 15-member council issued a unanimous statement Monday that "commends the states in the region for their increased cooperation, and welcomes the joint efforts they have made to address the security threat posed by the LRA."
Kony's soldiers have waged a two-decade war against Uganda's government that has spilled over into south Sudan and Congo in one of Africa's longest wars.
Thousands of people have been killed and about 2 million displaced by the rebel group, infamous for mutilating its victims and kidnapping women and children.
Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, a U.N. special envoy to northern Uganda, urged the Security Council last week to throw its weight behind the military offensive.
The Security Council statement condemned Kony's failure to sign the peace accord, as well as recent attacks by the LRA in Congo and southern Sudan. It expressed concern at the "long-running and brutal insurgency by the LRA."
The council also urged Uganda and its allies to conduct the offensive according to international law, make sure civilians were protected and keep U.N. missions informed of their actions.
A rebel spokesman said on Monday Kony escaped the attack by regional armies and is hiding in the Central African Republic but still holds out the possibility of a peace deal.
LRA spokesman David Matsanga said in Nairobi that Kony had instructed him to tell the world that he was ready to resume talks, but at a neutral venue such as Tanzania or South Africa.
The self-proclaimed prophet and two of his deputies have been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Kony wants the ICC arrests warrants dropped before he signs the peace accord. Uganda's government has said it will ask the U.N. Security Council to suspend the warrants after the rebels lay down their arms.
Recalling the ICC arrest warrants, the council said it "reaffirms that ending impunity is essential for a society recovering from conflict to come to terms with past abuses committed against civilians and to prevent their recurrence."