RSF capture Sudan army base in West Kordofan ‘without struggle’

Still footage from a video showing RSF soldiers celebrating at the main gate of the 92nd Infantry Brigade quarters in El Meiram, West Kordofan, on Thursday (Source: @RSFSudan via X)

Less than two weeks after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) took control of El Fula, the capital of West Kordofan, they captured El Meiram yesterday morning. Videos published by the RSF from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) station in El Meiram suggest that the SAF abandoned its positions in the town without a struggle.

On Wednesday, July 3, battles erupted in El Meiram, a town in West Kordofan, following a two-week siege by the RSF. On the same day, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) spokesperson Brig Nabil Abdallah announced that their forces had “repelled the RSF attack and inflicted heavy losses”.

However, a 39-second video clip filmed on Thursday, July 4, reviewed by the Dabanga verification team, shows the RSF entering the headquarters of the SAF’s 92nd Infantry Brigade in El Meiram, part of the 22nd Infantry Division based in Babanousa, without significant resistance. This indicates that the SAF withdrew without a battle, most likely into South Sudan

The video clearly depicts the main gate of the 92nd Infantry Brigade headquarters. The verification team confirmed that the video was filmed on Thursday morning. No information about civilian casualties has emerged.

El Meiram, located in western West Kordofan, is located 60 kilometres from the South Sudan border, near the disputed Abyei area. The closest major Sudanese city is El Muglad, 100 kilometres north of El Meiram, connected by an unpaved road that is difficult to traverse, especially during the rainy season. Ed Daein, the capital of East Darfur, is 218 kilometres northwest.

Map showing El Meiram locality (outlined in red) in West Kordofan, with the black arrow pointing to the location of El Meiram town (Source: Google Maps)

SAF withdrawal

Conflicting accounts surround the reasons for the army’s withdrawal 24 hours after the fighting began. Local sources reported an agreement mediated by community leaders, allowing the SAF a safe exit towards South Sudan in exchange for surrendering the 92nd Brigade headquarters without combat. Supporting this theory is the fact that the withdrawing SAF force left the city unpursued, covering 60 kilometres on unpaved roads to the South Sudan border.

RSF supporters claim that the paramilitary group entered the town by force, defeating the SAF and forcing it to flee towards South Sudan.

In contrast, SAF supporters argue that a significant shortage of supplies and ammunition made defending the city challenging, with aviation support arriving too late. In another video verified by the Dabanga team, RSF soldiers display various ammunition, including rocket-propelled grenades, mortar shells, and light and heavy machine gun ammunition, inside an underground warehouse at the 92nd Infantry Brigade station, abandoned by the SAF before their withdrawal.

With the fall of El Meiram, the 22nd Division in Babanousa has lost four brigades and three garrisons, including the 89th Infantry Brigade in Babanusa, the 90th Infantry Brigade in Heglig, the 91st Infantry Brigade in El Fula, the 92nd Infantry Brigade in El Meiram, and El Muglad garrison. This almost completely isolates the 22nd Division in Babanousa.

The RSF now controls a large part of the Sudan-South Sudan border, stretching from the disputed Abyei region to the borders of East, South, Central, and West Darfur, which they entirely control. The RSF also maintains a military presence in North Darfur, bordering Chad and Libya.

Displacement wave

The arrival of war in El Meiram has caused a wave of displacement. Local sources say that many of El Meiram’s residents have fled to neighbouring towns or crossed into South Sudan. The newly displaced urgently need shelter, given the heavy rains and lack of infrastructure, especially schools.

More than 65,000 people live in El Meiram, many of whom are South Sudanese refugees and displaced people who arrived after the outbreak of war on April 15, 2023.

The displaced also face risks from contaminated water sources, as all health facilities in El Meiram and surrounding areas have ceased operations. There are fears of epidemic outbreaks due to rainwater collecting in stagnant pools, which may be the only source of available drinking water.