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Cablegate: Sudan/Darfur: New Fighting Erupts Between Saf,

VZCZCXRO5567
OO RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1818 2121059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 311059Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3950
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001818

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPKO PREF SOCI UN AU SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN/DARFUR: NEW FIGHTING ERUPTS BETWEEN SAF,
SLM/MINAWI, AND NRF IN NORTH AND WEST DARFUR

1. (SBU) Summary: Fresh fighting has erupted in both North and West
Darfur between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), allied with rebels from
the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Minawi (SLM/Minawi) faction, and
militias from the National Redemption Front (NRF). The fighting is
notable because it is the first time since the signing of the Darfur
Peace Agreement (DPA) on May 5 that the SAF has initiated attacks on
rebels remaining outside the agreement. Both sides continue to mass
forces, so fighting is likely to flare up yet again. Charge Hume
has several high level meetings in the coming days, and will raise
the matter with the government. End summary.

2. (U) On July 26, approximately 50-100 SAF military vehicles, some
mounted with anti-aircraft weapon systems and rocket launchers, and
fuel trucks assembled at the El Geneina airport. Soldiers were
observed in full battle gear waving flags and shouting
pro-government slogans. They later headed northeast, reportedly
towards Jebel Moon, a mountainous area along the Sudan-Chad border.
A SAF spokesman described the fighting in Jebel Moon as operations
aimed at preventing rebels from looting from civilians.

3. (SBU) In a separate (though perhaps related) incident on July 28,
a SLM/Wahid rebel spokesman accused the SAF of attacking Kulkul
(North Darfur), approximately 35 km north of El Fasher, using
Janjaweed, three attack helicopters, and Antonov aircraft, in the
process forcing hundreds of civilians to flee to safety in El
Fasher. A SAF spokesman later confirmed the clashes, but said that
it was NRF rebels who initiated the attack by ambushing its forces.
SAF denied the use of either Janjaweed or aircraft in the fighting.
The African Union and United Nations issued a joint statement late
on July 28 condemning the violence and blaming the government and
Janjaweed for the attack on the NRF. The UN and AU also recalled
that an attack on any party to the Darfur conflict is either a
breach of the DPA or a violation of previous agreements concluded on
the basis of the N'Djamena Ceasefire Agreement. UNSRSG Pronk plans
to visit the region August 1. The U.S. Representative to the CFC
will ask for an investigation into to the attacks. AMIS identified
the SAF build-up of troops and supplies over several days, but did
not/not ask them what was happening.

-----------------
Current situation
-----------------

4. (SBU) Jebel Moon: Contacts of ARC officer El Fasher report no
ongoing fighting in the vicinity of Jebel Moon. Apparently, after
attacking Jebel Moon from both the north and south, NRF rebels were
able to push SAF elements back. UNDSS suspects the first attacks
were probing; SAF massed near Gosmina (NFI), probably awaiting a
go-ahead for offensive operations within the next 24-72 hours. SAF
composition includes at least 50 vehicles, supported by Janjaweed.

5. (SBU) Kulkul: Kulkul has been relatively quiet since the fighting
on July 28. The SAF has continued its ongoing build-up in El
Fasher. ARC officer in El Fasher reports there is a distinct
increase in the number of soldiers and policemen openly carrying
weapons. In addition, an SLA/Minawi contingent of 70 vehicles is
moving toward Kulkul from Haskanit. Another report states that an
SLA/Minawi element of 80 vehicles is moving west to seal off parts
of the border with Chad. At the El Fasher airfield three Hind
attack helicopters and two Antonov bombers are currently parked.
ARC officer reports that the helicopters have been conducting
operations.

6. (SBU) Comment: It appears that the Sudanese government may be
using the post-DPA signing period as an opportunity to attack those
outside the agreement. Specifically, it intends to encircle both
rebels with ties to Chad, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
and remaining holdouts who have coalesced into the recently-formed
National Redemption Front (NRF). An assortment of armed groups that
remained outside of the peace agreement, including Chadian-sponsored
elements, are known to be taking shelter in the Jebel Moon
mountains. End comment.

STEINFELD

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