The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have taken control of Nyala, Sudan’s second-largest city, after months of intense fighting with the army, according to multiple sources. The city’s residents are now grappling with a mix of hope for an end to the violence and the despair of witnessing the destruction that has unfolded.
One eyewitness described scenes of jubilation among the residents, who see the RSF’s takeover as a potential turning point in the conflict. However, the fighting has already driven more than 670,000 people from their homes, leaving behind a trail of devastation.
Hospitals in Nyala have been obliterated, and reports suggest that bodies are tragically lining the city’s streets, a grim testament to the intense battles that have raged within its boundaries, BBC reported.
This shift in control comes at a pivotal moment as the two warring factions were preparing to resume peace talks in Saudi Arabia. While the RSF has successfully captured Nyala, the army has remained silent regarding its defeat.
Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, holds strategic importance as it connects Sudan to the Central African Republic (CAR), making it a focal point in this protracted conflict.
Read also: Sudan crisis and wave of humanity
The RSF, which originates from Darfur, has faced severe allegations of committing atrocities against non-Arabic groups in the region throughout this year’s conflict. In recent weeks, high-ranking army generals, including the military head in Nyala, met their demise on the battlefield.
Leading the RSF’s successful capture of Nyala was Abdulrahim Daglo, the second-in-command who had previously faced US sanctions due to alleged involvement in ethnic cleansing in West Darfur.
Also, eyewitness accounts from Nyala have reported instances of looting and civilian house invasions by RSF fighters following their seizure of the city, causing further concerns for the population’s safety.
Medical organization EMERGENCY, which offers treatment to victims of war, reported that Sudanese staff members were taken from a pediatric center in Nyala and detained by the RSF.
In June, the RSF had previously seized Um-Dafog, a small town bordering the Central African Republic, which is believed to be a crucial location in their supply chain. Accusations have arisen that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had supplied weapons to the RSF via the Central African Republic and Chad’s Um-Dafog, though the UAE has vehemently denied these allegations.