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DRC Launches Offensive Against Rwandan Hutu Rebels

Elected chief of a displacement camp, Witonze Nzambonipa, talks during an interview in Mweso, DRC, Jan. 27, 2015. The wobbly white tarp tents once constructed for people fleeing a violent Rwandan Hutu rebel group have gradually been replaced by more solid huts of branches, banana leaves and mud.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has launched a long-awaited offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebels based in the eastern DRC.

Congolese military sources say the operation against the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) began Tuesday morning near the city of Uvira, in South Kivu province.

Congo promised the offensive after the FDLR failed to meet a January 2 deadline to disarm.

FDLR leaders were involved in Rwanda's 1994 genocide and the group is responsible for numerous killings in Congolese territory.

The Congolese army is reported to be operating without support from the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO. MONUSCO was expected to help fight the FDLR but withdrew its cooperation after the DRC government refused to replace two generals leading the operation.

The United Nations has accused the two men, Bruno Madevu and Sikabwe Fall, of serious human rights violations.

The operation is part of DRC government efforts to restore order in volatile eastern provinces. Domestic and foreign rebel groups have used the remote region for years to either hide out, fight for control of local mines or to launch attacks in neighboring countries.

Last year, U.N. and Congolese forces successfully shut down rebel group M23, which had seized territory in North Kivu province.