7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram
African leaders have agreed to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria.
Samil Chergui, the head of the African Union's (AU) peace and security council, said the decision was made after the council urged heads of state to endorse the deployment of troops from five West African countries to fight the terror group.
African leaders who are members of the 54-nation AU are meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a two-day summit that ends on Saturday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon earlier said he support the AU's move to send a force to fight Boko Haram.
The group has been increasing its attacks as Nigeria prepares for elections on February 14. Thousands have been killed in the five-year insurgency.
Iran also said 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.
"We will share our experiences in combating terrorism to defeat Boko Haram. We will achieve that without a doubt," the official said on the sidelines of the AU summit.
African nations have opened up a new international front in the war on terror. On Thursday, neighbouring Chad sent a warplane and troops that drove the extremists out of a north-eastern Nigeria border town in the first such act by foreign troops on Nigerian soil.
Chad's victory, and the need for foreign troops, is an embarrassment to Nigeria's once-mighty military, brought low by corruption and politics.
Mr Chergui said Chad's operation against Boko Haram was a result of a bilateral arrangement between Chad and Cameroon.
"It is conducted as part of a bilateral agreement and arrangement between the two countries. The AU, however, will launch the force in the future," he said.
Boko Haram attracted international outrage in April when it kidnapped 276 schoolgirls at a boarding school in the remote town of Chibok. Dozens escaped on their own, but 219 remain missing.
Suicide bombings in recent months by young girls have raised fears that Boko Haram is using the kidnap victims in its conflict, which has displaced more than one million people and killed about 10,000 in the past year, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.