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Darfur rebels sought to regroup in Jebel Marra: RSF says

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Egyptian armoured vehicle captured from Darfur rebels arrives in El Fasher on 29 May 2017 (ST Photo)

May 29, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Monday said the recent armed movements’ attacks in East and North Darfur aimed to regroup and reposition rebel fighters in Jebel Marra area.

The Sudanese army and the RSF militiamen clashed during four days from May 19 to 22 with the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SLM- Transitional Council (SLM-TC) in East and North Darfur.

The guidance advisor to the RSF commander Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed told Sudan Tribune that the SLM-MM and the SLM-TC have been planning and coordinating to launch an attack codenamed Operation “Tightening Arms” since three years.

He pointed that the operation aimed to bring the rebel fighters from Libya and South Sudan through two tracks, Wadi Hawar in North Darfur and Adoula Mountains range in East Darfur.

Mohamed said the rebel force which came from South Sudan was aiming to reach Adoula Mountains area, north-east of Ed-Daein, East Darfur capital on its way to Wadi Hawar to join the second force which is coming from Libya.

He pointed that the second phase of Operation “Tightening Arms” was to move from Wadi Hawar to recapture Jebel Marra, a strategic mountainous area that extends in three states in Darfur and use it as a base to launch military operations against the government.

The SLM-MM accused the Sudanese army and its RSF militia of attacking its positions in Darfur, pointing that the attacks aimed to impose the terms of peace on them.

It is noteworthy that the Sudanese army on 12 April 2016 declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nour stronghold in Jebel Marra.

The RSF advisor pointed that 99 fighters from the two attacking groups have been captured; saying 92 hostages were taken in East Darfur while 7 others taken at Wadi Hawar, North Darfur.

The SLM-TC has acknowledged the capture of its leader Nimer Abdel Rahman during the clashes. Also, the group confirmed the killing of its commander Mohamed Abdelsalam (aka Tarada).

Also, SLM-MM’s chief of staff Gumaa Mandi Issa and military spokesperson Ahmed Hussein (aka Adarob) were taken hostages during the clashes.

According to Mohamed, the RSF destroyed the whole force coming from South Sudan including 64 four-wheel-drive vehicles, saying they destroyed 25 vehicles and seized 35 others besides two water drills in Wadi Hawar.

He added their forces also seized six armoured vehicles (made in Egypt) and a vehicle equipped with a satellite unit in Wadi Hawar, pointing they chased and destroyed 30 fleeing vehicles at Ain Siro on Sunday.

Mohamed pointed that the RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (aka Hametti) will arrive in the area on Tuesday to inspect the battlefield on the ground.

He denied that the RSF had liquidated Tarada, saying the latter refused to surrender despite his injury and attacked the government forces with hand grenades.

The RSF advisor added that Tarada was known for being “ruthless”, saying he is the one who led the attack on El-Fasher airport when the rebellion broke out in Darfur in 2003.

The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilised by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.

The militia was activated and restructured again in August 2013 under the command of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.

Earlier this year, the Sudanese parliament passed RSF Act which integrates the notorious militia in the Sudanese army and provides that its commander is appointed by the President of the Republic.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, and over 2.5 million were displaced.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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