Residents in Sudan’s capital reported a major increase in airstrikes and artillery fire early on Tuesday as the militia fought to preserve important bases from paramilitary foes it has been engaged in combat with for more than a month.
Witnesses reported hearing airstrikes, explosions, and battles in the south of Khartoum as well as intense shelling in some areas of the neighboring cities of Bahri and Omdurman across the River Nile.
Although concentrated on Khartoum, the battle between the troops and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has caused unrest in other parts of Sudan, particularly in the western province of Darfur.
More than 700,000 people have been displaced within Sudan and about 200,000 have been forced to escape neighboring countries, resulting in a humanitarian catastrophe that threatens to destabilize the area.
The situation is intolerable, according to 32-year-old resident Ayman Hassan. We fled from the fighting and went to a neighbor’s home in Khartoum, but the bombardment followed us everywhere.
Since the two warring sides began discussions in Jeddah that were mediated by Saudi Arabia and the United States more than a week ago, fighting has increased in Khartoum and Geneina, the capital of West Darfur.
A statement of principles for granting access to humanitarian aid and safeguarding civilians is the result of the discussions. However, strategies for agreeing to a ceasefire and creating humanitarian corridors are still being debated.
As it attempts to drive back RSF forces that established positions in neighborhoods all throughout Khartoum shortly after the battle broke out on April 15, the troops has primarily relied on airstrikes and artillery, occasionally fighting ground combat.
Residents and witnesses claim that on Tuesday, the RSF targeted significant military installations in southern Khartoum and northern Omdurman in an apparent effort to obstruct the army’s deployment of fighter jets and heavy weapons.
The army has been working to capture critical locations, such as the airport in central Khartoum and the significant Al-Jaili oil refinery in Bahri, as well as cut off RSF supply routes from outside the capital.
After disagreements over the RSF’s proposed intentions to join the army and the future chain of command under a treaty approved by the international community for a political transition to civilian government and elections, the war broke out.
Following the toppling of previous president Omar al-Bashir in 2019 amid a popular revolt, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo became the main positions on Sudan’s ruling council.
Two years later, as the time for transferring control to civilians drew near, they launched a coup, but as mediators worked to finalize the new transition strategy, both sides started to mobilize their forces.