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U.S. C-17s to support peacekeepers in Central African Republic

Dec. 9, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Testing mobility forces
U.S. C-17s will airlift 850 peacekeepers from Burundi to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France, according to the Defense Department. (Airman 1st Class Brett Clashman/Air Force)
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The Defense Department has directed Air Force C-17s assigned to U.S. Africa Command to assist African and French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, where international troops are attempting to aid a transition to a democratic government, the DoD announced Monday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke Sunday night with French Minister of Defense Yves Le Drian, who asked for limited airlift support “to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic,” Defense Department spokesman Carl Woog said in a statement.

The C-17s willairlift 850 peacekeepers from Burundi to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France, according to the Defense Department.

“The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region,” Woog said.

Muslim rebels overthrew the government nine months ago, prompting increased sectarian violence. Last week, France deployed troops to the capital city of Bangui, where more than 400 people were killed in violence between Muslims and Christians, according to The Associated Press.

The French ambassador to the U.N., Gerard Araud, said French troops have restored a “modicum of law and order” to the city, according to AP. About 1,600 French troops are on the ground.

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