Uganda said on Friday that its troops sent this week into eastern Democratic Republic of Congo would stay as long as needed to defeat Islamist militants, with the progress of the mission to be evaluated after two months.
Uganda and Congo launched a joint operation this week, but have so far shared few details about its size or expected duration, even as some voiced alarm about the presence of Ugandan troops on Congolese soil.
At least 1 700 Ugandan soldiers have so far crossed into eastern Congo to join Congolese forces battling the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group aligned with Islamic State, two security sources and local media said on Friday.
The Ugandan defence ministry did not confirm how many troops had been deployed, but said infantry, artillery, armoured and special forces would be in Congo under Operation Shujja, which means hero in Swahili.
In its first clear indication of the duration of the planned operation, Uganda’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement that the operation would be reviewed after two months to gauge its progress against the ADF.
“The duration of this operation will be determined by the military-strategic end-state… to defeat the rebels and defeat their will to fight,” Major General Kayanja Muhanga said in a video posted to Twitter.
Joint forces have already conducted search operations in the wake of air and artillery strikes against suspected ADF bases in the forests of eastern Congo earlier this week, according to both countries’ military.