DAMARA, Central African Republic — More than 30 truckloads of troops from Chad line the two-lane highway just outside of Damara, supporting Central African Republic government forces who want to block a new rebel coalition from reaching the capital.
In a display of force, the turbaned fighters hold their rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons they threaten to use if the rebels seeking to oust President Francois Bozize push this far south.
Gen. Jean Felix Akaga, who heads the regional force known as FOMAC, says a push on Damara, just 45 miles north of the capital, would be "a declaration of war" on the 10 Central African states.
"For us, Damara is the red line that the rebels cannot cross," Akaga said Wednesday. "If they attack Damara, we will attack."
The United Nations called for talks between the government and rebels and the Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the Central African Republic on Thursday afternoon.
The multinational force brought journalists up to Damara, where they touted the strength of the Chadian troops, who along with forces from Republic of Congo and Gabon are helping to stabilize the area.
The rebels, though, appear to be holding their positions after taking a string of towns including Sibut, which is 70 miles further north from Damara.