Aiming to reclaim the northern stretches of Mali from extremists, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday approved the deployment of African-led forces to the West African nation for a year.
However, the resolution stresses that Mali has a second battle to fight: stopping the military from meddling in government affairs and reestablishing order through peaceful elections. Before forces can be sent to oust the Islamist militants, the Security Council said, steps must be taken to put the tumultuous country back on track, continue peace talks and ensure that military forces are adequately trained and equipped for the daunting task.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has said military operations are unlikely to begin until the fall, the Associated Press reported. A West African bloc of nations has already authorized 3,300 troops for the anticipated mission.
Mali has been beset by turmoil this year. In the chaos following a spring military coup, Tuareg rebels and Islamist groups took over the north. Extremists imposed harsh Islamic law onto the areas they claimed, stoning alleged adulterers and smashing historic tombs.