A Congolese official says at least 23 rebels have been killed in an operation launched in May to combat rebels in the North Kivu province.

North Kivu governor Julien Paluku said Thursday the joint U.N. and military operation in Beni has also led to the capture of five rebels, rocket launchers and bombs. Forces have cleared areas where Allied Democratic Forces, rebels with origins in neighboring Uganda, were operating.

The area around Beni has been the site of repeated attacks. The rebels have killed at least 500 civilians since October 2014.

U.N. force commander Gen. Jean Baillaud said they are protecting citizens and providing logistical and aviation support, intelligence and ground troops.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo includes a unique mandate to take offensive military action against rebel groups.