UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council urged African regional organizations and the United Nations on Friday to present within 45 days a specific plan for military intervention in Mali to help government troops reclaim the north of the country from Islamist extremists.

The 15-nation council unanimously passed a French-drafted resolution in a bid revive stalled attempts to deal with the crisis, which it warned could destabilize the wider, turbulent Sahel region - a belt of land spanning nearly a dozen of the world's poorest countries on the southern rim of the Sahara.

Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. But Islamist extremists, some allied with al-Qaida, have hijacked the revolt in the north.

In the resolution the council expressed "grave concern about the continuing deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the north of Mali, the increasing entrenchment of terrorist elements including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, affiliated groups and other extremist groups, and its consequences for the countries of the Sahel and beyond."

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