Doss also said his forces are making steady progress towards subduing armed rebel groups in the country’s devastated eastern region.

Delayed deployment

But the arrival of 3,000 extra peacekeepers in the DRC, aimed at supporting the UN mission there has been delayed.

Doss initially predicted in May that reinforcements for the 17,000 UN troops already in the country would start arriving in July, but said it could now be up to another three months before they showed up.

"So far, I have to be frank, none of those troops are in-country. I hope that they will be so in the next two to three months," he said.

"We have reasonable assurances now that the first elements will start to arrive in the next couple of months."

Although the DRCs 1998-2003 war has officially ended, the vast central African nation's eastern provinces remain plagued by lingering fighting between the army, rebels, and local militias.

MONUC backs the army's operations against the FDLR, seen as a root cause of the violence in eastern Congo.

But aid agencies have criticised the drives for sparking rebel reprisals on local civilians rather than stabilising the situation.

In his address to the council, Doss acknowledged that the operations had led to "serious humanitarian consequences" for civilians, and said MONUC had sought to address this by increasing its presence in the region.

But in an article for the Washington Times newspaper on Friday, he rejected suggestions by what he called "well meaning observers" that MONUC should withdraw from joint operations.

"Such a move would not end the brutality and might well perpetuate it," he wrote.