Mass arrests in El Geneina after withdrawal of garrison to Chad
Fresh abuses in West Darfur capital after fall of the 15th Division HQ
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) captured the 15th Division headquarters in El Geneina on Saturday, November 4, cementing their control over a city that they have already dominated for several months.
This development followed an ultimatum from the RSF to surrender. There were clashes for two days leading up to the fall of the army base, though not any final pitched battle. Rather, a convoy of defenders withdrew toward Chad.
RSF soldiers published numerous videos of themselves celebrating inside the base, but there were no dead bodies or combat videos.
Sources told Sudan War Monitor that SAF elements that departed El Geneina reached Kulbus the same day, joined by soldiers from Seleia and Sirba. After that, all these forces left Kulbus to Keirai in Chad, where they were received by the Chadian army.
The number of vehicles that crossed into Chad was about 60.
“Currently in Kulbus there is no military force in it. Even the citizens have been displaced, a large portion of whom have entered Chadian territory,” said a local source.
New video of Chadian troops with confiscated SAF weaponry backs up this claim.
Some sources also informed that a group of survivors from El Geneina arrived to Tina in North Darfur, though no details were available about their numbers.
Similarly, a community leader who preferred to withhold his name told Sudan Tribune that the army complied with a mediation led by community leaders and withdrew from the headquarters on Saturday toward the town of Kulbus, north of El Geneina. The mediation aimed to prevent a pitched battle for control of the base, like what had happened in Nyala, which could have resulted in many civilian and military casualties.
After evacuation of the garrison, some soldiers and SAF recruits were left behind. RSF detained hundreds of these recruits, as well as many civilian men and boys in Ardamata, the El Geneina suburb where the 15th Division headquarters is located.
An RSF commander (Video #3) said they captured more than 700 prisoners. Although this number wasn’t verifiable, the commander appeared amongst dozens of prisoners, and other videos showed hundreds more.
Among those captured was a man whom the RSF identified as al-Walid Atta-alla, the head of SAF Military Intelligence in El Geneina.
The overall condition of these prisoners is unknown, but video evidence suggests that there have been some incidents of abuse.
In Video #1, some of the prisoners are evidently injured or sick. RSF force marched them barefoot while insulting and threatening them (Video #2).
Another group likewise was whipped and forced to run (Video #4). This video was filmed in a neighborhood, rather than a military area, suggesting these men and boys were rounded up on an ethnic basis—not because of any affiliation with the army.
There are also some emerging reports of reprisal killings.
Human rights activists on social media reported the death of Mohammed Arbaba, an 85-year-old Masalit community leader, and his son, in Ardamata. He had joined the Native Administration in 1959 and was one of the oldest leaders in the Native Administration serving in all of Darfur.
Additionally, the civil society organization Darfur Victims Support said it obtained photos “showing the killing of dozens of civilians by the Rapid Support Forces in the Ardamata administrative unit of West Darfur State after the RSF took control of the 15th Infantry Division. The RSF committed these crimes. We call for an independent investigation by the ICC and independent human rights organizations and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.”
The deputy commander-in-chief of the RSF, Abdelrahim Dagalo, reportedly ordered fighters to give medical care to SAF prisoners and to treat them in accordance with international humanitarian law, according to RSF Live, a semi-official social media channel affiliated with the Rapid Support Forces.