European countries will send troops to support a joint French-African military operation aimed at quelling sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, a French official said Tuesday.
“We will soon have troops on the ground from our European colleagues,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, according to Reuters.
The United Nations Security Council authorized French and African troops to use force to protect civilians on Dec. 5, after the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels and rival Christian groups began killing civilians in the capital city, Bangui. France currently has 1,600 troops in the country.
The Central African Republic has descended into chaos since the Seleka ousted former president Francois Bozize in March, and Amnesty International says war crimes have been committed. Until now, European countries like Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium have supported the mission with logistical and financial assistance, but do not have boots on the ground.
France asked for additional support from its European allies at a European Union meeting on Monday. Poland and Belgium are among the countries that could send ground forces, but a Polish official stopped short of publicly committing troops on Tuesday.