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RI’s Neighbors Heat Up, Opposition Troops Seize City from Military

Armed conflict has broken out again in Myanmar, involving opposition forces and the military junta that controls the country.

According to the Myanmar Now report, quoted by Reuters, Wednesday (8/11/2023), opposition forces have captured a city in central Myanmar which is the district’s administrative headquarters after pushing back the military.

The National Unity Government (NUG) hailed it as a landmark victory, although one analyst warned that fighters may have difficulty defending Kawlin, which has a population of around 25,000.

Myanmar’s military is battling a surge in violence as opposing forces, including ethnic minority soldiers, launch new attacks two years after generals overthrew a democratically elected government in a coup in 2021.

Opposition forces attacked junta troops in Kawlin last week, before defeating them on Monday and taking over the town.

Its defense ministry posted a video on social media showing soldiers waving the flag of a resistance group allied to the shadow government.

“A district-level city is under our control now,” said NUG Prime Minister Mahn Winn Khaing Thann on social media platform X. “What a great victory!”

The city fell after a small group of junta soldiers surrendered after fierce fighting.

However, Richard Horsey, a senior Myanmar adviser at the nonprofit International Crisis Group, said the resistance may have difficulty maintaining control over Kawlin.

“It’s not difficult to invade and take control of a provincial town close to the mountains. But it will be difficult to defend it,” he told Reuters.

A 28-year-old Kawlin resident, who declined to be named for security reasons, said they left the town at the weekend after heavy fighting broke out between rebels and junta soldiers backed by air support.

“Our neighbor’s house was hit. There was no way to live there safely,” said the resident. “So almost everyone is gone.”

Resistance forces have taken over the Kawlin police station, district administration offices, banks and other important companies, the NUG said.

The NUG, which consists of remnants of the government of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others, has forged ties with democratic countries, including the United States, to rally support for its fight against the powerful military.

In a separate attack, the NUG said its troops and their allies had taken over another town in the Sagaing division, where Kawlin is also located, in a district bordering India.

In addition to the NUG, an alliance of ethnic minority armies late last month launched a series of coordinated surprise attacks against junta targets along the region bordering China.

Human rights groups and UN experts have accused the military of committing atrocities against civilians in its efforts to crush resistance. The junta says it is fighting “terrorists” and ignores international calls to cease hostilities.

Source: CNBC Indonesia

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