Central Reserve Police fight off attack on their headquarters
RSF vs Abu Tira
The Central Reserve Police fought off an attack by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on their headquarters in Khartoum on Wednesday, June 21, in a sign of rising tension between the two paramilitaries.
The Central Reserve base is opposite Al Hilla Al Jadida neighborhood on the city’s southwestern outskirts. It is the southernmost of four military complexes of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in western Khartoum—the others being Strategia, Armored Corps, and Yarmuk—two of which have fallen.
Since the current Sudan war began April 15, 2023, RSF and the Central Reserve have had few major confrontations. The two paramilitaries recruit from many of the same Darfur and Kordofan tribes, and RSF may be deliberately avoiding conflict with its sister force.
In a video posted after the clashes yesterday, an RSF media personality for the semi-official RSF media service “RSF 24” said they fought near the base from 13:00 to 17:00. He added, “We do not want to enter inside the camp in order to give a chance (to surrender or desert) to some of the heroes who have a desire of the homeland and have a desire to live happily ever after and live peacefully. That’s our message.”
Similarly, written messages circulated on RSF social media channels. One stated, “The Central Reserve is besieged and about to fall.” Another said, “Breaking: the Engineers and the Reserve are about to fall, and the battle will continue tomorrow, God willing. You still have a chance to surrender, remnants (of the former regime).”
Background about the Central Reserve
The Central Reserve are also called “Abu Tira.” They were previously implicated in human rights groups of abuses in Darfur, and they were sanctioned by the United States Treasury last year for the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters. The largest deployment of the force currently is at the headquarters in southwestern Khartoum, though individual members and smaller groups of Central Reserve are fighting alongside SAF units elsewhere.
In recent weeks, the Central Reserve do not appear to have played a significant role in the war. A large Abu Tira force entered central Khartoum and clashed with RSF in late April and early March, but since then they have not been seen undertaking any large operations. The force failed to relieve the nearby Yarmuk complex, which was defended by the Armored Corps, when it was attacked in early June.
Evidence of Clashes June 21
Reports of clashes around the Central Reserve headquarters came from both sides, SAF and the RSF. Pro-SAF and official SAF accounts shared videos of Central Reserve troops during the fighting and afterwards, celebrating after apparently repelling the attack. The videos were filmed in at least two areas of the base, including in front of it on the Jebel Aulia Expressway.
In an official statement, the SAF spokesperson said, “The rebel militia tried to attack…the Central Reserve Headquarters in Khartoum. The Central Reserve Forces crushed the enemy, who fled leaving a number of dead, and they destroyed and captured a number of combat vehicles, and they managed to shoot down a drone used by the enemy in the failed attack.”
A related video (below) was filmed in a neighborhood near the Central Reserve base, showing Central Reserve troops moving on foot in a “combing” operation. Although not geolocated, the film is narrated by the same man who filmed one of the above videos at the base itself.
From the RSF side, “RSF 24” posted a video in which sporadic gunfire can be heard and the Central Reserve headquarters can be seen across a field.
Another video from the same source showed RSF soldiers claiming to be attacking the Central Reserve headquarters. However, the RSF troops are clustered behind a small building in an open field, suggesting they could be pinned down by sniper fire.
The fighting around the Central Reserve base was just one of several clashes that occurred in Greater Khartoum on June 21. The day marked the end of a 3-day ceasefire. The area around the Corps of Engineers in Omdurman witnessed some of the heaviest fighting.
Wednesday’s attack on the Central Reserve base may have been diversionary and intended just to deter the Central Reserve from reinforcing SAF operations elsewhere in the capital.
The Corps of Engineers, Signal Corps, and General Command are likely more vulnerable to a major attack. Yesterday the RSF politcal advisor Youssef Ibrahim Ezzat claimed that they have taken control of part of the General Command.
Another reported murder in El Geneina
Lastly, I would like to conclude this newsletter with a note about a completely different region of Sudan: West Darfur. There is an emerging and alarming story on Sudanese social media, which says that the father of the recently murdered Governor of West Darfur was himself killed. The father’s name is Sheikh Abdullah Abakar Kindaj and this is a photo of the two of them.
This news is unverified, as far as I’m aware, and I typically hesitate to share unverified reports. However, given the recent evidence of atrocities in El Geneina, I think this warrants serious investigation. El Geneina has suffered communications blackouts in recent weeks. The Rapid Support Forces control the city and dominate most of the countryside around it, though SAF still has a garrison in El Geneina.
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