African leaders agreed to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, an African Union official said Saturday, as the international community, including long-time foes the U.S. and Iran, rallied in support of Nigeria against the militants.
The move came after the council urged heads of state to endorse the deployment of troops from five West African countries to fight the terror group, said the head of the African Union's Peace and Security Council, Samil Chergui.
African leaders who are members of the 54-nation African Union are meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a two-day summit that ends Saturday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier said he supports the AU's move to send a force to fight Boko Haram. Boko Haram is increasing its attacks as Nigeria prepares for Feb. 14 elections. Thousands have been killed in the 5-year insurgency.
Iran also said Saturday it has begun consultations with West African countries affected by Boko Haram to provide help.
The country's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said he is confident the group could be defeated with collective action.