South Sudan Rebels Claim Upper Hand in a Week Long Fighting in Upper Nile
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Jan 30, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— For nearly a week, South Sudan warring parties have been battling for control of major towns in Upper Nile since Monday in a new waves of fighting.
The renewed fighting has been confirmed by the United Nations in New York and also by UNMISS and residents in Malakal and Wau Shilluck where full offensives began on Wednesday.
Speaking at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, the spokesman of the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric confirmed rebels’ reports of fighting in Ditang, Lelo, Artakong, Wau Shilluck and Burkiny.
“Our colleagues from the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan report that intermittent shelling could be heard this afternoon in Malakal in Upper Nile from the Ditang area towards the north of the town, close to the UN base. This follows reports of heavy fighting on Wednesday between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition forces in Ditang, Lelo, Artakong and Burkiny,” Dujarric said.
While the UN calls on the warring factions to cease fighting immediately, fighting has continued to intensify towards Paloch Oil fields, Renk and Malakal.
“The Mission reiterates its call on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and fully implement the peace agreement,” he added.
According to SPLA-IO sources, South Sudan rebels claim to have captured and in full control of West Bank and are now fighting the loyal forces in Wadakona, Renk and near Paloch, a report our correspondents in Upper Nile could not independently verify due to intensity of fighting.
Earlier reports from SPLA-IO spokesman, Col. William Gatjiath Deng, confirmed that their forces had an upper hand despite constant bombardments targeting civilians populated areas in their territories.
“For more than 2 hours, the gallant SPLA-IO engaged and defeated the Juba regime aggression, hence taking full control of Detang and the fighting is still going on at Lelo and spreading to Malakal, as the Juba regime helicopter gunships continue bombarding and targeting civilian concentrated Wau Shulluk in the Juba regime ongoing campaign to ditch and exterminate the civilians from their homes.” Gatjiath claims.
Latest reports from Upper Nile confirmed that SPLA-IO Brigadier General Diang Latjor, who is leading the operations for the rebels, has captured Gabaat and Mustagbal river checkpoints near Renk this morning as fighting continues in multiple fronts.
The rebels claim to have captured mounted pick-up toyotas and two tanks, T55 and T72, a report SPLA-IG spokesman in Juba could not confirm.
Reached over the phone in Bilpham, Juba, the acting spokesman of SPLA Domic Santo Chol has rubbished the IO reports saying that there is no fighting in Upper Nile.
He accused the rebels of shelling their position in Malakal on Wednesday but he could not confirm or deny the fighting in Lelo, Ditang and Dolep Hills.
In other reports, SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, is believed to be behind the current operations in Upper Nile.
Although the war has taken more than three years, Malong has hoped to end the civil war by capturing Dr. Riek Machar Teny in the shortest time possible.
According to insiders, the government faction would then rewards some disgruntled military generals and politicians from Machar’s camp to weaken the opposition. Although this seems to be the case with politicians in Taban’s camp and emerging rebel groups, South Sudan’s conflict has instead intensified since July 2016.