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Sudanese army forces building up in Jebel Marra

RSF armoured vehicles arrive to El Fasher on 27 October 2017 (ST Photo)
May 13, 2018 (KASS) - The Sudanese army has deployed more troops in South and Central Darfur states in what seems a preparation for a large-scale offensive on rebel positions in Jebel Marra area.

Fighters of the Sudan Liberation Movement - Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW), which does not commit itself to a cessation of hostilities, since last March have clashed with the government forces in several positions of the mountainous area.

In a statement released on Saturday, the rebel group said they clashed with the government forces in several positions in Jebel Marra area which spans over North, Central and South Darfur states.

Sudanese official on Sunday told Sudan Tribune that more than 1500 troops including militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been deployed in Kass locality of South Darfur in order to attack the SLM-AW positions in Jebel Marra.

The sources said additional sources have been massed in Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur to take part in the military operations.

In April 2016, the Sudanese army launched a comprehensive offensive on the rebel-held areas in Jebel Marra but stopped its operations under the U.S. pressures and after signing a framework agreement for the lift of economic sanctions.

The UN secretary general in a recent report the Security Council last week spoke about "low intensity" of clashes in Jebel Marra.

Also, the UN report mentioned to some displacement in Jebel Marra following the clashes but it was not able to provide an estimation of the number of civilians affected by the fighting.

Last April, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies estimated that around 15,000 villagers have been displaced in Jebel Marra after the recent clashes in the mountainous area.

Human Rights Watch team leader, Africa division Jehanne Henry said this week Darfur peacekeepers ignore the magnitude of human and material casualties among civilians in Jebel Marra because they are largely absent.

"Sudan has restricted access and the peacekeeping mission has been under pressure to quickly downsize," she said in an opinion article released on 10 May.

The UNAMID has established a new temporary base in Golo to enhance the protection of civilians in the Jebel Marra but the new site is not yet fully operating.

Also in meeting with the Security Council, the Operation’s force commander Leonard Muriuki Ngondi, on Wednesday 9 May said that the Sudanese government restricts their movement in the region.

"The Government of Sudan could be persuaded to adhere to the Status of Forces Agreement and allow UNAMID freedom of movement, including unhindered flights in its area of operations," he said.

(ST)