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Darfur campaign

Darfur campaign
Part of War in Sudan (2023)

Situation in Darfur as of December 2023
Date15 April 2023 – present
(6 months, 3 weeks and 3 days)


Rapid Support Forces
Supported by:
Libyan National Army[a]
Wagner Group[b] (alleged, denied by RSF and Wagner)[7][8]

Sudanese Armed Forces

Commanders and leaders
Gibril Ibrahim (JEM)[12]
Minni Minnawi (SLA-MM)[12]
al-Tahir Hajar (GSLF)[12]
Casualties and losses
10,000+ killed[13]

The Darfur campaign or Darfur offensive is a theatre of operation in the 2023 war in Sudan that affects five states in Darfur: South Darfur, East Darfur, North Darfur, Central Darfur and West Darfur.[14][15] The offensive mainly started on 15 April 2023 in West Darfur where the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) forces captured Geneina, the conflict came after several days of high tensions between the forces and the government.[16]

The Battle of Geneina and the Battle of Nyala were the largest battles of the campaign, which all in total killed hundreds of civilians and both ended up with a RSF victory between 20 April to 2 May 2023.[17]

Overview of war

In the early hours of the morning of 15 April 2023, soldiers loyal to the Rapid Support Forces started a series of assaults on key buildings in Khartoum, primarily the Khartoum International Airport. While the international airport was captured by the RSF, street battles continued throughout Khartoum and the neighboring cities of Omdurman and Bahri.[18][19] The RSF also captured the presidential palace, the residence of the former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, and attacked a military base.[20][21] Users on Facebook Live and Twitter documented the Sudanese Air Force flying above the city, and striking the RSF targets.[22]

Origin in Darfur

The history of conflicts in Sudan has consisted of foreign invasions and resistance, ethnic tensions, religious disputes, and competition over resources.[23][24] In its modern history, two civil wars between the central government and the southern regions killed 1.5 million people, and a continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur has displaced two million people and killed more than 200,000 people.[25] Since independence in 1956, Sudan has had more than fifteen military coups[26] and it has also been ruled by the military for the majority of the republic's existence, with only brief periods of democratic civilian parliamentary rule.[27]

Former president and military strongman Omar al-Bashir presided over the War in Darfur, a region in the west of the country, and oversaw state-sponsored violence in the region of Darfur, leading to charges of war crimes and genocide.[28] Approximately 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million forcibly displaced in the early part of the Darfur conflict; the intensity of the violence later declined.[29] Key figures in the Darfur conflict included Mohamed Hamdan "Hemedti" Dagalo, a warlord[30] who commanded the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which evolved from the janjaweed, a collection of Arab militias drawn from camel-trading tribes active in Darfur and portions of Chad.[31]


On 15 April 2023, Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, was largely captured and occupied by RSF forces, with little resistance, except at Geneina Airport.[32] The occupation of the city lasted until 25 April 2023, when a battle for the city resumed and was reportedly 'deadly'. By the end of the battle, over 200 people had been confirmed to be killed, with the number estimated to be much higher between soldiers and civilians.[33] On 2 May, Geneina was mostly captured by RSF, while the group also kept advancing in several other areas of the province.[34]

The RSF quickly began to enlist Darfur's Arab tribes to expand its ranks and gain the upper hand in the area. Together, the RSF and its allies quickly overran large parts and Darfur, and began to expel or outright massacre non-Arabs. According to security analyst Andrew McGregor, the RSF operations in Darfur appeared to aim at "ethnically cleans[ing] the region of its indigenous Black population".[12] In response, several non-Arab militias and ex-rebel groups in Darfur allied with the SAF to defend their holdings. Five major armed groups formed the Darfur Joint Protection Force; the alliance included the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) under Gibril Ibrahim, the Sudan Liberation Army faction (SLA-MM) of Darfur Governor Minni Minawi, and the Gathering of Sudan Liberation Forces under al-Tahir Hajar. However, the cooperation between the SAF and the Joint Protection Force remained difficult, as both sides distrusted each other. Several member groups of the Joint Protection Force experienced internal divisions over the alliance with the SAF, with some factions leaving their respective groups to stay neutral or even side with the RSF.[12]

On 26 October, the RSF captured Nyala, Sudan's second-largest city and South Darfur's capital, after a long siege. As the city had served as a major military center, this was a major vioctory for the RSF. Soon after, the RSF also overran Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, after the local SAF garrison had fled. The center of West Darfur, Geneina, was fully conquered by the RSF on 4 November. In course of and after the battle for Geneina, the RSF and its allies subsequently massacred many civilians. The fall of Geneina caused many SAF garrisons in Darfur to also abandon their posts and desert or flee to Chad. Meanwhile, the RSF and its allies laid siege to al-Fashir, the capital of the entire Darfur region. At al-Fashir, the SAF-Joint Protection Force garrison received support by another rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army's al-Nur faction (SLA-AW).[12]

By mid-December 2023, McGregor assessed that the RSF was nearing victory in the conflict over Darfur, controlling four of the region's five states. Al-Fashir still remained under control of the Joint Protection Force, but it was no longer receiving supplies from the SAF-held areas in central Sudan, causing food, fuel, and medicines shortages. Meanwhile, SAF control was also collapsing in other parts of Sudan, making any additional support for the Darfuri holdouts more unlikely.[12]

Foreign role in the campaign

It has been alleged that the RSF has received foreign support in Darfur, most notably at the hands of the United Arab Emirates and the Wagner Group. Darfur Governor Minni Minawi also accused the Chadian government of allowing the passage of arms and mercenaries to the RSF. Conversely, Chadian officers of Zaghawa ethnicity allegedly aid the Darfur Joint Protection Force, as several of its member groups are recruited from Sudanese Zaghawa.[12]


  1. ^ [1][2]
  2. ^ Wagner Group, self described as a private military company, is widely considered to be the de facto private army of the Russian government.[3][4] Wagner Group section[5][6][7]


  1. ^ Faucon, Benoit; Said, Summer; Malsin, Jared (19 April 2023). "Libyan Militia and Egypt's Military Back Opposite Sides in Sudan Conflict". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 19 April 2023. Retrieved 19 April 2023. "Mr. Haftar, who is backed by Russia and the United Arab Emirates, sent at least one shipment of ammunition on Monday (17 April) from Libya to Sudan to replenish supplies for Gen. Dagalo," the people familiar with the matter said.
  2. ^ "Sudan's army chief says Haftar denies supporting RSF; no confirmation on Wagner Group's involvement". Al-Ahram. 22 April 2023.
  3. ^ Faulkner, Christopher (June 2022). Cruickshank, Paul; Hummel, Kristina (eds.). "Undermining Democracy and Exploiting Clients: The Wagner Group's Nefarious Activities in Africa" (PDF). CTC Sentinel. West Point, New York: Combating Terrorism Center. 15 (6): 28–37. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 July 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  4. ^ "What is the Wagner Group, Russia's mercenary organisation?". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 2 February 2023. Retrieved 16 March 2022. "From a legal perspective, Wagner doesn't exist," says Sorcha MacLeod
  5. ^ Elbagir, Nima; Mezzofiore, Gianluca; Qiblawi, Tamara (20 April 2023). "Exclusive: Evidence emerges of Russia's Wagner arming militia leader battling Sudan's army". CNN. Archived from the original on 20 April 2023. Retrieved 20 April 2023. The Russian mercenary group Wagner has been supplying Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) with missiles to aid their fight against the country's army, Sudanese and regional diplomatic sources have told CNN. The sources said the surface-to-air missiles have significantly buttressed RSF paramilitary fighters and their leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo
  6. ^ Schmitt, Eric; Wong, Edward (23 April 2023). "United States Says Wagner Has Quietly Picked Sides in Sudan". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the notorious private military company Wagner, has offered weapons to the paramilitaries fighting for control of Sudan, according to American officials.
  7. ^ a b "Wagner in Sudan: What have Russian mercenaries been up to?". BBC News. 24 April 2023. Archived from the original on 30 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023. Its founder, Yevgeny Prighozin – who has close links to President Vladimir Putin – has said that "not a single Wagner PMC [private military company] fighter has been present in Sudan" for over two years. We've found no evidence that Russian mercenaries are currently inside the country. But there is evidence of Wagner's previous activities in Sudan...
  8. ^ "Sudan's Rapid Support Force denies links to Wagner group". Military Africa. 22 April 2023. Archived from the original on 28 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  9. ^ SudanTribune (24 May 2023). "Rapid Support Forces ambush peace groups in West Darfur". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 24 May 2023.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Darfur update: El Geneina clashes continue, truce holds in el Fasher, looting in Nyala". 2 May 2023.
  11. ^ Sudan, Tribune (23 September 2023). "SLM-Nur expands control to several areas in Darfur to protect civilians".[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h McGregor 2023.
  13. ^ "10,000 reported killed in one West Darfur city, as ethnic violence ravages Sudanese region". CNN. 26 July 2023. Retrieved 12 August 2023.
  14. ^ "Mass exodus from Sudan as deadly fighting enters third week". France 24. 30 April 2023. Archived from the original on 1 May 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  15. ^ Peltier, Elian (29 April 2023). "Sudan's Conflict Ignites Fears of Civil War in Darfur". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2 May 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  16. ^ Bergman, Andrew (17 April 2023). "Deadly Sudan Army-RSF clashes spark human tragedy, widespread looting in Darfur". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Archived from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  17. ^ "Bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur as Hemeti's allies and enemies vie for control". Middle East Eye. Archived from the original on 2 May 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  18. ^ "Sudan unrest: RSF captures presidential palace as violence rages". Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  19. ^ "Saudi airline says plane came under fire at Khartoum International Airport". Reuters. 15 April 2023. Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  20. ^ "Sudan: Paramilitary group says it controls palace, Khartoum airport". The Jerusalem Post | 15 April 2023. Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  21. ^ "Sudan's RSF say it seized presidential palace, Khartoum airport in apparent coup bid". Al Arabiya English. 15 April 2023. Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  22. ^ "Fighting between Sudan military rivals enters a second day, with dozens dead". CNN. 15 April 2023. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  23. ^ Sawant, Ankush B. (1998). "Ethnic Conflict in Sudan in Historical Perspective". International Studies. 35 (3): 343–363. doi:10.1177/0020881798035003006. ISSN 0020-8817. S2CID 154750436. Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  24. ^ Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn (1990). "Islamization in Sudan: A Critical Assessment". Middle East Journal. 44 (4): 610–623. ISSN 0026-3141. JSTOR 4328193. Archived from the original on 27 February 2023. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  25. ^ "Sudan: The basics". BBC News. 17 April 2023. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  26. ^ Fabricius, Peter (31 July 2020). "Sudan, a coup laboratory". Institute for Security Studies. Archived from the original on 17 April 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  27. ^ Biajo, Nabeel (22 October 2022). "Military Rule No Longer Viable in Sudan: Analyst". VOA Africa. Archived from the original on 17 April 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  28. ^ Abdelaziz, Khalid; Eltahir, Nafisa; Eltahir, Nafisa (15 April 2023). MacSwan, Angus (ed.). "Sudan's army chief, paramilitary head ready to de-escalate tensions, mediators say". Reuters. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  29. ^ Samy Magdy & Joseph Krauss, Sudanese general's path to power ran through Darfur Archived 26 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press (May 20, 2019).
  30. ^ Fulton, Adam; Holmes, Oliver (25 April 2023). "Sudan conflict: why is there fighting and what is at stake in the region?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 3 May 2023. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  31. ^ Who is 'Hemedti', general behind Sudan's feared RSF force? Archived 27 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine, Al Jazeera (April 16, 2023).
  32. ^ Badshah, Nadeem; Abdul, Geneva; Mackay, Hamish; Badshah (now), Nadeem; Mackay (earlier), Hamish (15 April 2023). "Sudanese air force urges people to stay indoors as doctors union says at least 25 dead – as it happened". the Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 18 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  33. ^ "RSF soldier in front of police HQ in Sudan's West Darfur". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  34. ^ Nashed, Mat. "Shifting alliances in Sudan's Darfur as new civil war fears rise". Archived from the original on 30 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
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Darfur campaign
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