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UN Expected to Approve Peacekeepers for Mali

French soldiers patrol in the Terz valley, south of the town of Tessalit in northern Mali, Mar. 20, 2013.
The United Nations Security Council is expected to approve a resolution Thursday establishing a peacekeeping force in Mali.

The country plunged into chaos last year when soldiers overthrew the government, allowing ethnic Tuaregs and later al-Qaida-linked militants to take over the north. French and African troops have helped drive the Islamists from major towns, but attacks continue.

The resolution calls for an initial one-year mission with up to 11,200 military personnel and 1,400 police. They would take over July 1 from the 6,000-member African-led force, with some of those troops becoming part of the U.N. mission.

If the Security Council approves the resolution, it would have 60 days to decide if terrorists pose a significant threat in Mali. It has the option of delaying the deployment of peacekeepers if the situation is too dangerous.

Once in Mali, the force would not be tasked with counter-terrorism duties, but rather stabilizing cities in the north, supporting a political transition and protecting human rights.

The resolution also gives U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the ability to request French soldiers intervene in Mali if U.N. troops are "under imminent and serious threat."