M23 rebels in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have withdrawn from several villages ahead of military deployments by a regional force, officials in the troubled region said Thursday.
The Tutsi-led rebel group had advanced closer to Goma, threatening to cut off road links to the city of over 1 million people on the border with Rwanda.
The M23, which DR Congo claims is backed by Rwanda, has seized swaths of territory in North Kivu province since reemerging from dormancy in late 2021. The seven-nation East African Community (EAC) began deploying a military force to eastern Congo in November in a bid to stabilize the region.
But clashes between the M23 and the Congolese army continued, and several regional peace initiatives failed, including a cease-fire mediated by Angola that was to come into effect on March 7.