Violent clashes erupt in Sudan’s North Darfur

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A man stands by as a fire rages in a livestock market area in al-Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state, on September 1, 2023, in the aftermath of bombardment by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The conflict between Sudan's army under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF commanded by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo spread in late August 2023 to North Darfur state, with at least 27 localities burned down by the RSF and allied Arab militias, according to the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health. (Photo by AFP)

Violent clashes erupted on Friday and continued on Saturday between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in El Fasher, the capital city of North Darfur State in western Sudan, the independent Sudan Tribune news portal reported.

An eyewitness from El Fasher told Xinhua that fierce ground clashes took place on Friday between the SAF and the RSF in the central neighbourhoods of the city.

“Both sides used heavy weapons, resulting in a number of casualties who were transferred to El Fasher’s southern hospital,” the eyewitness said.

“Our forces on the front defences east of El Fasher launched a surprise attack on the positions of the RSF in Al-Manhal School, Al-Borsa area, and Al-Kahraba neighbourhood, inflicting heavy losses of lives and military equipment on them,” an unnamed senior commander in the joint force of the Sudanese army and allied Darfuri armed groups was quoted by Sudan Tribune as saying.

On Friday, Minni Arko Minnawi, governor of the Darfur region, said on social media platform X that “The joint force and other regular forces have defeated the RSF, burned a number of its combat vehicles, and forced it to retreat from El Fasher.”

Minnawi accused the RSF of following a scorched-earth policy in El Fasher by indiscriminately and deliberately bombing citizens’ sites and burning institutions.

Meanwhile, El Basha Tabig, advisor to the RSF Commander, accused the Sudanese army and its allied groups of attacking the RSF positions east of El Fasher.

On Friday, Tabig said that the RSF defeated the army and its allied movements and repulsed the attack.

El Fasher’s resistance committees also said in a statement on Friday that there were casualties among civilians as a result of the exchanged bombardment between the two sides.

Social media platforms loyal to the Sudanese army posted video clips showing a number of citizens celebrating with army soldiers who showed off three vehicles claiming they were seized during Friday’s battles.

On the other hand, social media platforms loyal to the RSF posted video clips showing RSF units claiming they were inside El Fasher.

For weeks, the RSF has been mobilizing thousands of fighters on the outskirts of El Fasher in preparation for an attack, while the SAF and allied Darfuri armed groups strengthened their military presence at the entrances to El Fasher and around most of the city’s neighbourhoods.

Last week, the United Nations warned that some 800,000 people in El Fasher were in “extreme and immediate danger” as worsening violence advances and threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.

Since the conflict between the SAF and the RSF broke out on April 15, 2023, 14,790 fatalities have been recorded, while the number of people displaced inside and outside of Sudan has reached 8.2 million, according to recent estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

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