Cablegate: Un Security Update for North Darfur

DE RUEHKH #2239/01 2571540
P 141540Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: UNDSS highlighted ongoing SAF operations in areas
to the north and southwest of El Fasher. It estimated the overall
security environment in those areas as unpredictable, and advised
humanitarian agencies to exercise caution when operating in those
particular locales. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In its regular weekly security briefing on September 14, UN
Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) highlighted several recent
clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and rebel troops in
areas to the north and southwest of El Fasher. The incidents

-- September 11: National Redemption Front (NRF) forces defeat SAF
in Um Sidir and retake the village. SAF elements were witnessed
retreating south to safehavens in Mellit, Kutum, and Kafod. UNDSS
did not provide comment on the amount of equipment captured by the
NRF or the number of victims, though it noted rumors of "possibly
hundreds" of SAF casualties. (Note: In press reporting, NRF field
commander Malik Adam Tyrab claimed that they seized sixteen vehicles
mounted with anti-aircraft guns, DShK heavy machine guns, and other
light armaments. Tyrab held that fighting resulted in only a small
number of NRF wounded, while there were a number of SAF troops
killed. End Note.)

-- September 11-13: Following its defeat at Um Sidir, the SAF began
a bombing campaign focused on Um Sidir, Hashaba North, and other
surrounding villages. (Note: ARC officer and other observers have
noted steady re-supply and military flight activity at the El Fasher
airport, with most Antonov bombers heading north. It remains
unclear if bombing continued into the morning of September 14. End

-- September 13: UNDSS reported an unconfirmed SAF attack on the
villages of Dobi-al-Umda and Dobi-al-Madrasa, both located southwest
of El Fasher and east of Jebel Mara. UNDSS remarked on reports of
new NRF bases in the area, which would be the likely reason for the
military action. (Note: ARC officer notes that in conversations
with AMIS and UN officials, and in press reporting, a common
assessment is that the SAF is seeking to cut off the north-south
avenue of approach west of El Fasher. SAF efforts may be aimed at
hampering NRF attempts to organize a new front by linking up with
SLA-Abdel Wahid Deputy Senior Commander Mohammed Adam Abdul el-Salam
(also known as "Terada") south and southwest of Tawila. End Note.)

-- September 13: UNDSS reported that additional troop
reinforcements were sighted in El Fasher, including 40 vehicles -
both technicals and troop transport trucks - and up to 1,000
soldiers. (Note: It is unclear whether these are additional troops
providing reinforcement or if these forces have already been in
theatre and are only being repositioned. Sightings of substantial,
heavily-armed military convoys and aerial activity have been common
since late August. On the margins, UNDSS further reported receiving
news of battalion-sized elements deploying from Khartoum airport to
Darfur on September 13. End note.)

-- September 13: An unconfirmed attack was carried out by Janjaweed
on the "Rwanda" internally displaced persons (IDP) camp near Tawila,
UNDSS reported. No further details were available, though UNDSS
assessed that this was a relatively small and isolated incident.
(Note: In its September 13 situation report, AMIS stated: "MGS
Tawilla reported that at about 122240C Sep 06, ten (10) armed men
suspected to be Janjaweed entered the Tawilla IDP Camp and at gun
point forcefully took animals belonging to the IDPs. Some of the
IDPs managed to sneak out and inform the MGS. The protection force
personnel were tasked to intervene and stop the act. On arrival at
the scene of the incident the gunmen had already left and the
protection force followed the tracks of the gun men in the direction
of Um Jalbalkh. On sighting the PF personnel the armed men opened
fire and the PF returned fire killing one of the gunmen and wounding
another." End note.)

3. (SBU) In a sidebar with ARC officer, UNDSS mentioned that the
precise situation in the eastern Jebel Mara remains unclear. There
have been unsubstantiated reports of a parallel SAF offensive aimed
at dislodging SLA-Abdel Wahid fighters and other "anti-DPA forces"
in the region. (Note: A UNDSS security update reported severe
clashes on September 10 "when SAF ground forces, including
artillery, entered the Turba area, which is under control of
SLA/Abdel Wahid. The next day fighting declined but intensified
again on September 12 when SAF reportedly bombed the area. It is
alleged that one Abdel Wahid rebel was killed and six others
injured. Fighting has also been reported in the area of Katur
village, 15 kilometers southwest of Sabun. National Security
Director in Nyala confirmed the fighting in the above mentioned
areas, involving SAF and NRF forces." UNDSS opined that "SAF
casualties are not available but believed to be high since the GoS
has requested additional staff in order to increase the capacity of

KHARTOUM 00002239 002 OF 002

the medical personnel at the military hospital at Nyala. On
September 12, more than 20 persons were evacuated to the military
hospital at Nyala. The fighting might be the beginning of the
recently reported new (5-prong) SAF offensive operation south of
Tawila." End Note.)

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Some UNDSS and AMIS officials speculate that the
SAF is seeking to exploit rifts in the rebel movements by further
dividing them and taking advantage of their military weakness. The
NRF's capture of Um Sidir indicates that it still has sufficient
capability and organization to mount effective counter-attacks.
Continued SAF troop and materiel reinforcements flowing into El
Fasher suggest that the Government will continue offensive
operations in North Darfur and the Jebel Mara for the near future,
with negative repercussions for humanitarian access and ordinary
Darfurians. El Fasher and the 30 - 40 kilometer zone surrounding
the town remain calm.

5. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Gaining a clearer picture of SAF
operations and intentions will remain difficult with virtually no
active AMIS patrolling in areas of contention and with continued GNU
obstruction of Ceasefire Commission efforts to carry out
investigations. (Comment: A CFC participant informed ARC officer
on September 13 that the SAF CFC representative rejected a CFC
proposal to investigate fighting near Tawila. End Comment.) Fuel
shortages in El Fasher - exacerbated by the GNU's withholding of
petrol reserves - is further degrading AMIS' ability to operate
(Reftel Khartoum 2113.) Additionally, several AMIS personnel have
alleged to ARC officer that the SAF continues to surreptitiously
confiscate fuel from AMIS tankers at the El Fasher airfield, which
closes after 1800 and is under the complete control of Sudanese
authorities impeding the African Union force's ability to maneuver
and carry out its mission. END COMMENT.


Saved: K://POL/2006 files/Cables - Chron/Drafts/Cbl 14Sept06 UN
security update for North DarfurV2

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