Sudan civil war widens, as Darfur’s JEM rebels join central army against RSF


SUDAN – Two rebel groups from Sudan’s Darfur region have vowed to fight alongside the army in the country’s civil war.

This comes after the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) made major gains in Darfur, where it has been accused of ethnic cleansing.

BBC reported that Rebel leader, Gibril Ibrahim, told BBC Newsday they “want to defend their civilians” from the RSF, which he said had been burying people alive.

Ibrahim said the decision to join forces with the army was not an easy one.

Read more: Real or rhetorics? Head of Sudan’s army says he’s ready for talks with rebel commander

The leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) stated that it had taken seven months to come to an agreement.

JEM and the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) took up arms in Darfur in 2003, accusing the government of marginalising the region’s black African communities.

The government then mobilised Arab militias against them, leading to what has been described as the 21st Century’s first genocide.

These militias had since transformed into the RSF, which had been fighting the army for control of the country since April.

The RSF has taken several key towns in Darfur in recent weeks, including the country’s second biggest city, Nyala.

In joining the fray now – after months of professed neutrality – they seek to defend their support base in Darfur, in particular the Zaghawa ethnic group wherebboth men come from.

They will also have concluded that an RSF victory would be disastrous for them, and Darfur.

Ibrahim expressed concern at the RSF’s advances, saying he feared Sudan would end up divided.

Last week, there were reports they had massacred hundreds of people in the West Darfur capital of El Geneina.

The RSF had denied responsibility for the killings, saying they were part of a “tribal conflict.”

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