BAMAKO, Mali, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council approved the deployment of an African-led intervention force to help the government of Mali reclaim rebel-held areas, officials said.
The council said Thursday the African-led International Support Mission in Mali would be sent to the rebel-torn country for an initial period of one year, the U.N. News Center reported.
Fighting broke out in January between government forces and Tuareg rebels, who have joined forces with radical Islamic groups to occupy Norther Mali. The clashes have forced more than 412,000 people to flee northern Mali, the United Nations estimates.
The intervention force will assist the Malian government with rebuilding its defense and security forces and support authorities in "recovering the areas in the north under the control of terrorist, extremist and armed groups and in reducing the threat posed by terrorist groups," a unanimously adopted U.N. resolution said.
The idea is to get the Malian army into shape to join 3,300 Economic Community of West African States troops expected to go to Mali sometime after September 2013, the BBC reported.