January 20, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nur said its fighters have inflected heavy losses on the Sudanese army and repulsed a large-scale attack it carried out in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur state but the latter dismissed the claims.
- A fighter belonging to Sudan’s Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahid Nur (SLM-AW)
In a statement released Tuesday evening, SLM-AW spokesperson Shihab al-Din Ahmed said their fighters repelled the government offensive which began last Friday, pointing the latter used war-planes, heavy artillery and mortars in the attack.
He added the SLM-AW seized 100 military vehicles in good condition besides large quantities of weapons, ammunition and equipments, noting the government warplanes continue to bombard the their positions for the fifth day in a row.
Ahmed pointed the SLM-AW fighters repulsed an attack carried out by government caravan against Saboon Al-Fagr and Gor Lanbing areas, stressing they seized 35 Land Cruizer vehicles and killed and injured 200 government soldiers.
The rebel spokesperson also said they repelled another army caravan which was heading towards Dalo, Bargo and Rofta areas, noting they destroyed 30 Land Cruiser vehicles and seized 30 others besides 2 Renault vehicles loaded with weapons and 2 machine guns.
He added that a third attack by government caravan Kali, Katan and Tori areas south of Jebel Marra was also being repulsed, saying their forces seized and destroyed 3 vehicles.
The statement also pointed the movement’s fighters repelled a government caravan which was heading towards Rokero area, north of Jebel Marra and Sorong and Keeloi north west of Jebel Marra as well as repulsing a caravan in Kininga and Baldonk areas.
The African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Sunday confirmed the heavy clashes between the government army and the SLM-AW fighters in the region in also said that the Sudanese army dropped five bombs at an area north-east of its base in Nertiti.
UNAMID further expressed concern over the humanitarian consequences of fighting in the east Jebel Marra and north of Kutum in North Darfur over the past three weeks.
Meanwhile, Sudanese army spokesperson Ahmed al-Shami told Sudan Tribune that SLM-AW is considered the "weakest among the rebel groups", stressing it doesn’t dare to engage in military operations against the army.
He denied that the rebel movement has seized military vehicles from the army, demanding the SLM-AW to show pictures of the military booty it claims to have captured.
Al-Shami pointed the rebel movement only seeks to raise the morale of its fighters who fled from the battle scene and took refuge at the villages among ordinary citizens, claiming that several rebel leaders have been captured in Jebel Marra.
The army spokesperson added that large number of fighters and field commanders from the SLM-AW have turned themselves in to the army, saying the movement controls very few remote and bumpy areas in Jebel Marra.
He renewed accusation to the movement of using the ceasefire to target the administrative caravans of the army which usually carry the supplies and salaries of the army personnel in the area, saying the army doesn’t seek escalation in order to ensure the success of the national dialogue and the peace talks.
“However, that doesn’t mean [the army] would keep its arms folded and refrains from repulsing rebels assaults … the constitution allows us [ to repel their attacks],” he said.
“The armed forces has replied to the sources of threat.. they have fled and sneaked into the villages and were unable to confront the army except in a few areas on top of the Jebel [Marra],” he added.
Meanwhile, advisor to the leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Gibril Ibrahim, Mahgoub Hussein said the SLM-AW achieved significant victories against the government army in the battles of Jebel Marra.
Hussein warned the government has mobilized troops to besiege Jebel Marra and launch a new attack against the area.
The Sudanese army and its allied militia have been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.
According to the UN, 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and 2, 5 million chased from their homes.