Bamako — The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday the creation of a 12,600-strong peacekeeping force in Mali starting on July 1.
The strong peacekeeping force is intended to incorporate some 6,000 West African soldiers already in the country.
This initiative will be backed by French troops if needed to combat Islamist extremist threats in the West African country.
The resolution was suggested by France, which intervened militarily in January, helped by some 2,000 troops from Chad, to drive out Islamist militants from Mali's northern desert region.
The U.N. peacekeeping force - to be known as MINUSMA - will assume authority from a U.N.-backed African force deployed there to take over from the French.
Diplomats say that most of the African force - known as AFISMA - is likely to become peacekeepers.
According to UN officials, MINUSMA in Mali will be the third largest, behind deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur in Sudan, and cost up to $800 million annually.