Sudanese Air Force attempt to rebut RSF Singa siege

Residents flee Singa after RSF attacks the capital city of Sennar (Photo: Sennar Youth Association)

The Sudanese Air Force launched a series of airstrikes on sites of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Singa, the capital of Sennar, yesterday. Ongoing battles for the city have displaced more than 50,000 people, according to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix.

The RSF took control of the 17th Infantry Division base in Singa in a surprise attack on Saturday, seizing military vehicles, tanks, and motorcycles. They reportedly captured all the main sites inside the city. 

Eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that the RSF controlled large parts of Singa yesterday morning morning. They reported that the army was still present at the base of the 67th Brigade in the Hariri area, upon which the RSF launched repeated attacks on Sunday. 

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) announced it had confronted the RSF attacks and seized two vehicles. They also published pictures of those killed during the clashes.

The sources also reported that army warplanes launched several airstrikes on RSF sites in Singa yesterday morning. The army allegedly took control of the bridge that connects the city to the east, especially to the area of Dinder. 

Those fleeing the city confirmed that the RSF holds many positions on the southern road to Abu Hajar, and also on the northern road to Sennar town. They accused the RSF of plundering vehicles, homes, and shops. It was not possible to contact RSF commanders in Singa for comment. 


June 24, RSF troops advanced into Sennar state from El Gezira, controlled by the paramilitaries since December 19 last year. The attack on Singa began, according to eyewitnesses, on Saturday afternoon, amid conflicting reports about the size of the forces and the route they took to reach Singa from Jebel Moya. 

Yesterday morning, social media stories circulated about a large RSF force travelling from Jebel Moya to Singa. The distance between Jebel Moya and Singa is about 50 kilometres. 

The RSF entered Singa from the western direction, according to people fleeing the violence. At the time, sources loyal to the army downplayed the scale of the attack on Singa, saying that a force of seven vehicles had infiltrated El Galaa neighbourhood and that army forces had confronted them.  

This was before the RSF posted, late Saturday afternoon, video clips of its forces and leaders in front of the base of the 17th Infantry Division in Singa, including commanders Abu Agla Keikel and Abdelrahman El Bishi.  

Radio Dabanga verified video clips of RSF leaders present in the division commander’s office, the commander’s vehicle, and the police headquarters, and the eastern neighbourhoods.

Controlling Singa 

Lt Col Omar Arbab told Radio Dabanga that the RSF strategy is to attempt to isolate SAF troops, then besiege them, after which they attack in waves to weaken the army soldiers’ defences. 

Arbab explained that the RSF seek to control the most important cities in Sudan in order to gain wider control. “The paramilitaries’ control of the strategic Jebel Moya allowed them to attack Singa. The control of Singa allows the RSF to take control of Sennar, but also of Ed Damazin in Blue Nile state, and Rabak and Kosti in White Nile state,” he said.

He said that control over Singa and its surroundings puts Sennar town under a complete siege from all directions. “The army will be unable to resist the siege except through air strikes, as these are not sufficient to eliminate the RSF.” 

A military expert who preferred to remain anonymous told Radio Dabanga that he expects the SAF to hold on to the areas it controls inside the city, which could mean that the confrontations will continue for a long time.

Other analysts downplayed the importance of the attack on Singa and considered it a media sensation, pointing out that the headquarters of the 17th Infantry Division was empty of soldiers and vehicles that had previously moved to Sennar to support the army after the RSF attack on the town. 

Widespread frustration 

A state of frustration prevailed among large sectors of Singa’s population and pro-army accounts on social media due to the army’s performance in the Singa battle. Many people claimed that the army abandoned the city without any significant resistance. 

Singa is considered the eighth state capital controlled by the RSF. The RSF has been besieging El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, for three months and continues to attack it amid widespread criticism from the international community. It had also previously besieged El Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan. 

Singa is considered a crossroads, as the road that connects the rich agricultural areas of the southern Blue Nile region to Khartoum passes through it. There is also a road that reaches Port Sudan. It is connected by rail to the rest of the Sudan, and has an important bridge which connects the two banks of the Blue Nile, through which many trucks pass coming from the states and from neighbouring Ethiopia and heading to the main Sudanese port, Port Sudan. 

Singa has a diverse population, animal wealth, and water resources. It has a large veterinary research facility and a large crop market, where much gum Arabic is sold. It is one of the historical cities and the home of the oldest archaeological fossil discovery of man in Sudan. 

Army comments 

Brig Nabil Abdallah, spokesperson for the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), said in a press statement on Sunday morning that the army in Singa is clinging to its strongholds and fighting with high morale. 

Sennar chief of staff, Lt General Mohamed El Hussein, praised the forces of the 17th Infantry Division in Singa for “their steadfastness and bravery in the face of attempts by the RSF to attack the peaceful city of Singa.” 

Last week, military expert Brig Kamal Ismail described Jebel Moya, which the RSF took control of last week, as an important strategic area that is easy to defend. He told Radio Dabanga that Jebel Moya can be used to launch attacks on other areas and is difficult to control. “Controlling Jebel Moya allows controlling the roads leading to several areas,” he said. The RSF attacked Sennar town after taking control of Jebel Moya, but were not able to take control of it. 

Mass exodus 

The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix reported that about 55,440 people fled Singa and neighbouring villages on Saturday. The majority of families wfled from Singa and Abu Hajjar localities (about 50,000 individuals) to El Rahad in El Gedaref, while about 5,000 people fled towards Ed Damazin in Blue Nile Region. About 440 others fled to El Jebelein in White Nile state. 

More people fled to El Gedaref yesterday evening. Thousands of vehicles rushed to the Dinder Bridge, which caused traffic jams. It reportedly took three hours to cross the bridge.  

Activists on social media posted pictures of displaced people who fled the city on foot, crossing the river to the eastern side while the bridge was closed during the morning. 

Voluntary work activists told Radio Dabanga that large numbers of displaced people arrived in El Gedaref and Kassala. The state governments have begun emptying schools of displaced people and allocating areas outside the cities of El Gedaref and Kassala to shelter the displaced.

A source from Kassala told Radio Dabanga on Friday that “there are no shelters in schools anymore, after they were closed for displaced in preparation for the start of the new school year.” 

The total number of displaced people from Khartoum in Sennar state due to the war is about 64,500.