The United Nations Security Council on Friday promised support for an African peacekeeping mission Mali, in response to a request from the transitional government in the West African country for help against Islamist militants.

Mali has been in chaos since a coup on March 22, when renegade soldiers seized the presidential palace, followed by Islamist militants joining Tuareg separatists in seizing large parts of the north.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the Islamist-occupied areas.

The West African block ECOWAS has been waiting for the UN Security Council’s green light to send 3,300 troops to Mali.

In the resolution, the 15-country Security Council unanimously declared its readiness to respond to the Malian request for “an international military force assisting the Malian armed forces in recovering the occupied regions in the north of Mali.”

Mali was given 45 days to develop a plan for military action, as well as for outside help in reorganizing its military in the wake of this year’s coup.

The Security Council would still need to pass a second resolution to approve military action.

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