US condemns worsening violence in east of DR Congo, accuses Rwanda

By Thomson Reuters Feb 17, 2024 | 6:03 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Saturday condemned worsening violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), blaming it on M23, an armed group it said is backed by Rwanda.

A statement from the U.S. State Department called on M23 to cease hostilities immediately and withdraw from its current positions around Sake and Goma.

“The United States condemns Rwanda’s support for the M23 armed group,” the statement said.

It called on Rwanda to immediately withdraw all of its military personnel from the DRC and remove surface-to-air missile systems, saying these threatened the lives of civilians, U.N. and other regional peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and commercial flights in eastern DRC. Rwanda denies supporting the rebels.

The U.S. statement also called on the DRC to continue to support confidence building measures, including by ceasing cooperation with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda armed group.

Clashes between the M23 rebels, army forces and self-defence groups that support them have escalated recently in the DRC, forcing entire communities to flee.

South Africa said this week it would send 2,900 troops as part of its contribution to a force deployed by southern African regional bloc SADC to help Congo fight rebel groups.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Alistair Bell)