Battles resume in North Darfur capital

Displaced women and children in Zamzam camp near El Fasher, North Darfur (file photo)

North Darfur’s capital of El Fasher witnessed a lull in ground battles and artillery exchanges on yesterday afternoon, only to be followed by renewed airstrikes on the outskirts of the city in the evening. This marks the second consecutive day of aerial bombardment in the area.

Eyewitnesses have reported that the ongoing clashes have resulted in casualties among civilians across various locations. Reports indicate that artillery shelling and sniper fire claimed the lives of several individuals, leaving many others injured.

The clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the allied Sudan Liberation Movement breakaway faction under the leadership of Darfur governor Minni Minawi, fighting against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), have resulted in extensive damage to various neighbourhoods. Particularly affected are homes constructed with less durable materials.

According to the North Darfur Ministry of Health, the violence has claimed the lives of 63 individuals and left 388 others injured.

Medical facilities, already strained by the influx of casualties, are struggling to cope with the overwhelming demand for care. The El Fasher South Hospital, supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), reportedly treated 454 victims since Friday, with 56 confirmed fatalities. However, given the intensity of the fighting, the actual figures are feared to be much higher.

Displacement has been rampant, with civilians fleeing from battle-ridden neighbourhoods to comparatively safer areas within the city. The International Organisation for Migration reported that 200 families were displaced from areas to other parts of the city.

Reports have also emerged regarding the control of key strategic locations. Some sources claim that the SAF and joint forces successfully repelled attacks by the RSF, others indicate ongoing battles and the seizure of RSF materiel.

Humanitarian crisis

As the humanitarian crisis worsens, concerns have been raised regarding the scarcity of essential supplies, including food and water. Minawi issued a general alert to defend civilians and their property, amid fears of further escalation and potential massacres.

In response to the escalating violence, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on key figures involved in the conflict. The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on two RSF commanders, Ali Yagoub and Osman Hamid, due to their leading roles in RSF attacks on North Darfur.

International actors, including the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and the Horn of Africa Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), condemned the targeting of civilians and infrastructure, calling for immediate action to protect civilian lives.

El Fasher is the last of the five Darfur state capitals not under control of the RSF.