The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are reportedly in control of all areas north of Jebel Marra, where fierce fighting between government forces and rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) took place during the past few weeks.
Colonel El Nur Ahmed El Gubba told the pro-government Ashorooq satellite channel that his forces are in full control of areas north of Jebel Marra after the capture of Fanga.
“The security situation in Jebel Marra is quite stable after the control of strategic area of Fanga, which was a rebel stronghold and the base for their military operations in Darfur”, the colonel said from Fanga.
According to El Gubba, the rebels were definitely weakened after they lost control of Fanga. “This paved the way for the recapture of many important areas in northern Jebel Marra.”
He said that that the SAF will secure all the areas in Jebel Marra so that the newly displaced people will be able to return to their villages.
Government forces, however, regained control over the area of Fanga in North Darfur’s Tawila locality -popularly known as East Jebel Marra- more than a year ago.
In early 2014, the security apparatus sent its newly recruited and trained paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to Darfur in order to “put an end to the Darfur insurgency” during the ‘dry season’.
Backed by the Sudanese Air Force, the RSF attacked a number of villages in the locality. In March, fighting broke out between rebel fighters and the RSF. At least 16,700 people were displaced.
The RSF remained in the area and wreaked havoc among the villagers.
In late December 2014, army and RSF forces again launched a major offensive on the area. On 2 January 2015, the SAF announced that the sixth Infantry Division managed to expel the rebels from Fanga area on new year’s day. “The victory was achieved” after army and RSF troops recaptured several areas in Tawila locality before taking the mountainous area of Fanga, the SAF spokesman claimed.
The SLM-AW acknowledged on the same day that they lost the area of Fanga to the government forces after heavy battles. Fleeing villagers told Radio Dabanga at the time that for the first time since the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 the area became under control of the government.
Fanga strategically lies at the main entrance of Jebel Marra, and holds the largest trading market in the mountainous region.
On 15 January this year, army troops, supported by the Sudan Air Force, and large groups of militiamen on camels and horses, launched a major offensive on Jebel Marra. The government said it was determined to eliminate the insurgency and halt the rebel attacks on its military and commercial convoys.
According to the latest reports of UN OCHA, over 96,000 people have been displaced since mid January.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ali El Sadig, however, described the UN figures as “inaccurate” in a press statement on Monday. He said that the numbers are “based on verbal and hearsay information” from people who are not able to reach these areas.
According to El Sadig, the number of displaced people by the fighting in Jebel Marra reached 73,000. He claimed that most of them have returned to their home villages after the end of the military operations.
(Sudan Tribune, Radio Dabanga)