Home | News    Wednesday 29 April 2009

Troops movements observed in Sudan-Chad proxy war

April 28, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are moving under supervision of the Chadian army in the Sudan-Chad borderlands, according to a report from a state-run Sudanese news agency, while Sudan-backed rebels admit they are prepping for an offensive into Chad.

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Fighters from the JEM ride in the back of a vehicle through the bush (file Photo Reuters)

Five Chadians who had crossed into West Darfur by pickup truck in the area of Khor Baranga were apprehended by Sudanese armed forces, said the official spokesman of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ali Al Sadeq.

He added that before that on Saturday the JEM amassed a force of 120 trucks beside four trucks registered with the Chadian army with Chadian mortars, and moved towards Um Jaras led by Abdul Karik Shalawai, Hassan Abdul Aziz, Bakheet Dijou, Wargo Suliman Dhahia and Mohamed Salih Garou, all under the command of a Chadian army brigadier general.

The spokesman said this group divided into three subgroups, the first moving towards Wade Hour north of Furawia and the second east of Kariari and the third subgroup moved towards North of Tine.

Sadeq claimed that other movements occurred as well, emphasizing that the Chadian army was involved in coordination.

Likewise, however, Sudan-based rebel groups aiming to topple the president of Chad say that they are ready to launch their offensive.

"When everything is ready we will launch the war," rebel chief Timan Erdimi said near El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur. Erdimi heads the Union of Forces of the Resistance (UFR), an alliance of eight of Chad’s rebel groups.

About 15 fighers were killed Sunday in a UFR clash with the Chadian army near Birak, according to a rebel spokesman. The government denied the attack but the rebel said that they had also destroyed two vehicles with rocket-propelled grenades.

Forces under Erdimi participated in an assault on the Chadian capital Ndjamena in February 2008, though the offensive was repulsed as it neared the gates of the presidential palace as cracks appeared in the ranks of the rebels.

Erdimi acknowledges that political divisions among the rebellion last year forced his fighters to leave Ndjamena although they had "won the war" but he stresses that the tide has now turned and the time for attack is nearing.

"There never has been a spirit of unity like today," said Erdimi, formerly the Chadian army’s chief of staff until 1996. "Things are ready on the political and military fronts,” he told the AFP.

El Geneina, a back-base for the UDF rebels, is a major military garrison for the Sudan Armed Forces. Last year a panel of UN arms experts who investigated in the area found that regular liaison, supply, and training exercises were being carried out between Sudanese National Security and Chadian rebels.

The area is also one in which the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation has faced government-imposed restrictions on its movement, according to past press briefings.

"Almost 95 percent" of Chadian rebels are in Sudan, says General Balla Keita who heads the joint UN-African peacekeeping force UNAMID in West Darfur.

As the rainy season commences in mid-May and dried rivers swell, the opportunity for rapid advances could slow.