New York - Democratic Republic of Congo forces and the UN
troops have forced rebels back from a key eastern city and left them to
"lick their wounds," a top United Nations official said on Thursday.
The M23 group around Goma in eastern DRC suffered
battlefield defeats, the UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said, suggesting
that this is what forced it back to peace talks with the government this week.
M23, which the United Nations says has received support from
neighbouring Rwanda, launched an assault on Goma last month, sparking fierce
battles with government forces.
An assault by the DRC army, backed by the UN peacekeepers
and attack helicopters, forced the rebels away from Goma, the major city in the
"One very significant achievement was made: that the
M23 group has been pushed back towards the north to such a place that it does
not any more pose the direct threat that it had posed for such a long
time," Ladsous said.
"M23 has suffered casualties" and withdrew to
"lick their wounds," he told reporters after the UN Security Council
talks on DRC.
The UN forces have strengthened their positions around Goma
and it was "no surprise" that M23 has returned to peace talks with
the government in the Ugandan capital, he added.
New political efforts
Mary Robinson, UN special envoy for the Great Lakes region,
told the Security Council that M23 had offered to disarm if rival anti-Rwandan
rebels operating in the region also laid down their arms, according to diplomats
in the meeting.
Ladsous said the United Nations now hopes to start using
surveillance drones over eastern DRC in early December. The unarmed drones will
help the UN monitor the border between DRC and Rwanda, which denies aiding M23.
The UN has also stressed new political efforts to end
decades of conflict in the region. African heads of state are to meet to
discuss the DRC in New York on September 23 on the sidelines of the UN General
Assembly leaders' summit.
Eleven African nations, including DRC and Rwanda, signed up
to a UN-brokered declaration in February agreeing not to interfere in each
A Security Council statement released after Thursday's
meeting expressed "concern" at the tensions in eastern DRC and said
all signatories of the political cooperation accord had to "fulfill their
commitments in good faith".