WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department is watching foreign supporters of a rebel movement in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an official said.
U.N. officials this week said there was evidence members of the rebel March 23 movement in DRC remained active in the Kivu province after they pulled out of the region last month. Investigators there said they saw evidence of crimes against the civilian population in areas recently affected by conflict.
Derek Chollet, assistant U.S. defense secretary for international affairs, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on volatility in DRC.
"An estimated 5 million people have lost their lives since 1998 and millions more have been uprooted and displaced," he said.
The Rwandan government is suspected of backing the M23 movement, a charge Kigali denies. Chollet, however, said DRC fighting has become a regional issue.
"As the situation in eastern Congo develops, we will continue to monitor reports of external support closely and respond appropriately, including by reviewing our assistance," he said.