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Sudan military urges volunteers as RSF holds on

July 3, 2023

It is unclear if the Sudanese army's call for fighting volunteers is a forced conscription. Meanwhile, fighting between the army and the paramilitary RSF has persisted in the capital Khartoum and in Darfur.

A picture taken on June 16, 2023, shows a covered body across from a military armored vehicle on a street in the West Darfur state capital El Geneina.
The Sudanese military is in an entrenched battle with the paramilitary RSFImage: AFP via Getty Images

Sudan's armed forces have called on the country's youth to join them in the fight against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as the war between the two factions drags on into a third month.

In a statement on Monday, the Sudanese military said the call was an extension of an earlier one by army general Abdel-Fattah Burhan. The top army general made a similar speech on TV days ago, calling on civilians to join "the military movement."

The fighting has thus far left at least 3,000 killed, though paramedics suggest the real death toll is much higher. Over 2.8 million people have also been forced to flee fighting areas, including hundreds of thousands who crossed into neighboring countries, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Sudanese fleeing violence arrive in Gadaref, the capital of Sudan's eastern state of Gadaref, on July 3, 2023.
The fighting has displaced millions of residents, fleeing both to safer areas in Sudan and abroadImage: AFP

What did the Sudanese military say?

The military has been locked since April 15 in a violent fight for power with the RSF, a powerful paramilitary led by Burhan's former number two, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

The military urged on Monday "the youth and all those who are able to participate" to join the fight against the RSF "in the honor of defending the existence and the dignity of the Sudanese people."

The statement said that military units and division commanders have been instructed to "receive and prepare" volunteers, urging them to turn themselves in to the nearest military headquarters or unit.

It is not yet clear whether the call for volunteers is a forced conscription. It comes, however, as the RSF seems to be progressing in several flashpoints.

Fighting grips Khartoum, Darfur

In the capital Khartoum, explosions erupted on Monday, with residents reporting the sound of artillery fire at dawn.

RSF paramilitary fighters appear to have the upper hand in the capital, having infiltrated the city's residential streets and taken over many houses abandoned by fleeing residents. The military has been trying to fight them using airstrikes.

Fighting also is still ongoing in the western region of Darfur, among the worst hit by the violence. RSF forces attacked a military base in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, late on Sunday, the French AFP news agency reported.

RSF fighters have been accused of intentionally targeting civilians in Darfur, including those attempting to flee using the Chadian border. They have also been accused of sexually assaulting survivors both in Darfur and Khartoum.

Home to a quarter of Sudan's population, Darfur is no stranger to violence. A nearly two-decade war devastated the region during the reign of former autocrat Omar al-Bashir. He relied heavily on Arab Janjaweed militias, from whom the RSF has largely emerged, to quell a 2003 uprising there.

The war saw massive human rights violations and earned the now ousted president an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court over charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

rmt/wd (AFP, AP)