RSF Siege on Sudan’s El-Fasher

On June 14, the Sudanese army announced that it had killed senior Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader Ali Yagoub Gibril while foiling an RSF offensive near the eastern borders of el-Fasher. 

The major city, the last stronghold in Sudan’s Darfur region that the RSF has not gained control of, has been besieged by the paramilitary group for eight weeks. The United Nations Security Council, as of last week, adopted a resolution calling on the RSF to halt its siege of el-Fasher.

Regional sources report on the development:

Al-Ahram described the current climate of Sudan’s el-Fasher, writing that the city “has seen sporadic clashes since the war broke out in April 2023, but fierce fighting reignited on May 10.” The source cited UN chief Antonio Guterres’ assessment that this marks “an alarming new chapter” in the conflict, as well as Doctors Without Borders’ estimate that “at least 192 people have been killed and more than 1,230 wounded” in the city.

Al Arabiya iterated the significance of el-Fasher: “Al-Fashir is the last major city in the vast, western Darfur region not under control of the RSF,” and it holds 1.8 million people. In part, because the RSF was “blamed for a campaign of ethnically driven killings against non-Arab groups and other abuses in West Darfur,” UN officials have warned “that some 800,000 people in Al-Fashir [are] in ‘extreme and immediate danger.’”

During the Rapid Support Forces’ siege, Sudan’s army “killed Ali Yagoub Gibril, a senior commander for the paramilitary [group] who was under US sanctions, during a battle” north of the city. Arab News noted that, according to the army, “Yacoub was killed as an RSF attack was thwarted early on Friday by its troops and allied ‘joint forces’ fighting alongside it.”

On June 16, RSF Commander Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, in reference to the situation in el-Fasher, blamed the escalation on armed factions “that have abandoned neutrality and chosen to side with their slaughterer…They attacked our forces, so we had no choice but to defend ourselves,’” Asharq Al-Awsat quoted. 

Following the clashes that killed Gibril, Al Jazeera explained, the United Nations Security Council “approved a resolution demanding that Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) halt the siege of el-Fasher in North Darfur region and end fighting in the area.” The measure was approved 14-0, with Russia abstaining.

The New Arab outlined that the resolution also “calls on all parties to agree on an immediate ceasefire and to remove obstacles to humanitarian access.” However, “the UN Security Council already demanded a ceasefire in March to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but with no effect.”

“Saudi Arabia was last month expected to host [Sudna] peace talks in Jeddah, where the kingdom and the US have already mediated several rounds of negotiations without success,” The National News covered. Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s view that “there will be no peace in Sudan until the military defeats the RSF,” has “[thrown] any chances of ceasefire talks into doubt.”



(Banner image: AFP)

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