US warns of ‘imminent offensive’ in Sudan’s Darfur

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The United States on Wednesday warned of a looming military offensive on the Sudanese city of al-Fashir, a humanitarian hub that appears to be at the center of a newly opening front in the country’s civil war.

After a year of fighting between the SAF forces of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR), under General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, millions have been displaced in the northeastern African country.

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Until recently, al-Fashir -- the last Darfur state capital not under RSF control -- had been relatively unaffected by the fighting, hosting a large number of refugees.

But since mid-April, bombardments and clashes have been reported in the city and surrounding villages.

“The United States calls on all armed forces in Sudan to immediately cease attacks in al-Fashir,” the State Department said.

“We are alarmed by indications of an imminent offensive by the Rapid Support Forces and its affiliated militias,” it said, adding that “an offensive against al-Fashir city would subject civilians to extreme danger.”

After several days of “arbitrary shelling and airstrikes” in the city and its outskirts, a pro-democracy lawyers committee reported last week that at least 25 civilians had been killed.

And as of Friday, clashes in the eastern and northern parts of the city had already resulted in 36,000 displaced people, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

As the war enters its second year, the United Nations and United States have warned the breakdown of the fragile peace in al-Fashir would be catastrophic.

The city functions as the main humanitarian hub in the vast western region of Darfur, home to around a quarter of Sudan’s 48 million people and the site of harrowing violence during this and previous conflicts.

The State Department said it had seen “credible reports” that the RSF and affiliated militias had razed multiple villages west of the city, while it condemned “reported indiscriminate aerial bombardments” in the region by the SAF.

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