News   /   Sudan   /   Editor's Choice

El-Fasher clashes raise concerns of expanding conflict in Sudan’s Darfur

Members of the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, in 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Fierce clashes have erupted in and around Darfur’s El-Fasher which had been relatively calm since the war erupted in Sudan last year between the army and a rival paramilitary force, raising fears of a further expansion of the conflict.

“Clashes have taken hold of the countryside west of the city,” AFP quoted a local human rights defender as saying on Sunday.

“Airstrikes have pounded (the area) and everyone is terrified,” she told the agency by phone, on condition of anonymity.

The local resistance committee, one of many pro-democracy groups organizing aid across the country, said on Saturday a militia allied with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had set ablaze six villages west of El-Fasher.

According to another activist committee, at least 10 civilians were killed in the attacks.

The RSF has been fighting the army, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, for control of the North African country since April 15 last year in a war that has killed thousands of people and displaced eight million amid warnings of famine.

Amid the violence in the countryside, residents in North Darfur have reported an influx of displaced people moving towards the city. But local activist Adam, who asked to be identified only by his first name, told AFP “we could hear the sound of clashes” in the city itself on Saturday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply concerned” by reports indicating “an attack on El-Fasher may be imminent”, his spokesperson said on Saturday.

In a statement, he said “such an attack would be devastating for civilians in the city,” which has functioned as “a humanitarian hub for the UN that ensures lifesaving assistance” across Darfur.

North Darfur’s El-Fasher is the last state capital not under RSF control in the vast Darfur region.

The recent clashes shattered a fragile truce deal that was brokered by local armed groups in El-Fasher last year.

Unrest has soared there since the two most powerful armed groups, led by Darfur governor Mini Minawi and Sudan’s finance minister Gibril Ibrahim, vowed to fight alongside the army.

In a statement on Thursday, they said the RSF, led by Burhan’s former deputy Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, had “taken advantage of the forces’ position of neutrality and defense”.

“There can no longer be neutrality,” they declared, vowing to “fight along with our allies, the patriots and the armed forces against the RSF militias and their hired helpers.”               

Both warring sides in Sudan have been accused of war crimes, including targeting civilians, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and torture.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku