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Tue Aug 27, 2013, 08:54 AM

Congo army battles M23 rebels near eastern city of Goma


(Reuters) - A U.N. brigade tasked with neutralizing armed groups in Congo has assisted the country's army in clashes with eastern rebels on Monday, ending a brief lull in days of fighting that has killed and wounded dozens.

The violence, the most serious in months, is the first major test for the newly deployed U.N. Intervention Brigade which has an unprecedented mandate to launch military operations against M23, one of the rebels at the heart of nearly two decades of conflict.

A senior officer with the brigade told Reuters that U.N. peacekeepers were "assisting" the Congolese army in operations against M23 rebels late on Monday.

"We are supporting the army in their operations but have not ourselves engaged the rebels at this stage," the officer said by telephone from Goma, requesting not to be identified.

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