U.S. Accuses Rwanda of Deploying Over 4,000 Troops to Support Rebels in DRC

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The United States has accused Rwanda of deploying over 4,000 troops to reinforce M23 and the Congo River Alliance rebel movements in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Rwandan troops number upwards of 4,000 on DRC soil and have committed attacks that killed civilians, including the May 3 attack on the Mugunga IDP camp, which killed dozens and wounded many more,” said U.S.’ Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan on Monday evening.

Sullivan spoke during a heated meeting at the United Nations where many countries condemned the rapid advance of M23 rebels in North Kivu that has left a trail of death and destruction.

M23’s expansion of its territorial control to unprecedented levels since the group’s resurgence in 2021, almost reaching the gates of Butembo in North Kivu and Minova in South Kivu, has triggered mass displacements and compounded concerns for protecting civilians.

From 30 April to 8 May, M23 advanced on positions to the west of Sake, taking control of Rubaya, one of the world’s largest coltan mining sites, and encroaching further west towards the town of Masisi and south towards Minova in South Kivu. 

On 18 May, FARDC employed its Sukhoi-25 fighter jet capacity for the first time since February. Soon afterwards, M23 withdrew from its southernmost positions in Masisi territory.

Tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda were marked by continued escalation, antagonistic rhetoric and mutual accusations regarding the use of armed groups as proxies.

Earlier, Bintou Keita, Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), told the Security Council that, “over the last two weeks, the M23 captured several strategic locations in North Kivu, burning several FARDC bases and triggering additional population displacements.”

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