RSF breach the outer defenses of Armored Corps
Desperate fighting around Sudanese army base in southwest Khartoum
The Armored Corps base in southwest Khartoum came under attack from all sides yesterday, August 20, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) overran outer defenses, reaching the perimeter wall in several places.
The army continue to defend the base from inside dozens of buildings scattered around the sprawling 157-hectare complex, and also from some fortified buildings in adjoining neighborhoods that so far have held out.
The battle for the base, known as Al Shajara (“The Tree”), is far from over. But the situation for the defenders looks increasingly dire.
Al Shajara is defended by several thousand men belonging to the Armored Corps, elements of the 17th Infantry Division, National Security personnel, volunteers who have signed up from the neighborhoods, and survivors from the fighting elsewhere in Khartoum. They have been surrounded for about two moths.
Until yesterday, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) had maintained a zone of control around the base of about 0.3-1 km (though earlier this month RSF already had captured outlying positions northeast of the base).
The remaining buffer zone largely collapsed in yesterday’s fighting. The RSF now control parts of the perimeter road, as well as mid-rise buildings overlooking the base from the east, north, and south, allowing snipers to fire into Al Shajara and thereby inhibiting the movement of SAF troops both within the base and into and out of it.
“The Sudan Armed Forces could be on the brink of a major military disaster.”
The army therefore now faces dangers moving supplies, ammunition, and reinforcements from one part of the besieged base to another. Any army troops still outside the base, or at perimeter trenches along portions of the base that weren’t overrun in yesterday’s fighting, now risk being cut off and surrounded.
Under attack from all sides and fighting under increasingly desperate conditions, the Sudan Armed Forces could be on the brink of a major military disaster.
The troops and equipment at that base are equivalent in size to a reinforced division. They are the only remaining SAF forces in Khartoum outside of General Command. If they are captured or killed, it would mean the loss of thousands of fighting men and most of the army’s tanks and armored vehicles. The fall of Al Shajara also would be a blow to the army’s prestige and could negatively affect morale on other fronts.
Our team analyzed and geolocated dozens of conflict videos filmed yesterday during and after the fighting at Armored Corps. We posted some of these in a thread on Twitter (“X”) yesterday as we covered the developing story. Below you can find the same geolocations and videos, with additional videos, commentary, and analysis.
SAF troops retreat from the eastern wall
This first video was filmed from an RSF position on a building overlooking the east side of the base, looking north. It show a burning vehicle inside the eastern perimeter (📍15.542726, 32.517527), with the sounds of fighting ongoing.
The RSF fighter filming says, “Now the heroes are inside Al Shajara.”
Filmed from the same location, this video shows SAF troops retreating from the perimeter wall toward buildings on the inside of the base, as they come under fire from snipers near the person filming.
The fleeing soldiers likely were stationed at trenches outside the eastern wall (📍15.5445517, 32.5177449), which the RSF captured, according to the below two videos.
Here's another video from the eastern side of the base (📍15.544075, 32.517442), showing RSF with a captured tank.
Notice that near the end of the video (0:37) they put the camera under a hole in the wall and film a burned vehicle, which was what was seen burning in the first video above. The hole in the wall is probably how a group of SAF soldiers defending this position managed to escape inside the base, as seen above.
RSF take control of the southeastern perimeter road
In addition to attacking the eastern wall, RSF attacked and overran SAF trenches and burned another vehicle on a road outside the base on its southeast corner. This position guarded a tall building overlooking the base, which RSF can now use for snipers. The location is 📍15.536728, 32.518489.
Here’s another video filmed on the southern perimeter road, which separates the base from the eastern part of the Jabra North neighborhood. This was filmed 260 meters west of the video above at 📍15.536917, 32.516117.
RSF’s capture of these positions means that there probably aren’t any SAF troops still remaining at outlying positions in the eastern part of the Jabra North neighborhood. If there are, they are now cut off from the base itself.
However, SAF may still control western parts of the Jabra North neighborhood, since previous videos show they had strongpoints there, and none of the videos we analyzed yesterday showed any RSF troops in that area.
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Parts of Jabra North neighborhood fall into RSF hands
RSF took over the Khalid Health Center in Jabra North (📍15.533014, 32.515967), which is about 600 meters south of the base's south wall in eastern Jabra North.
This video was filmed about one block away from the clinic seen in the video above (📍15.532178, 32.517580), also about 600 km south of the Armored Corps wall. It shows RSF fighters operating a Type 63 multiple rocket launch system
RSF sniper nest overlooking the main gate from behind
On the north side of Armored Corps, the RSF took positions in medium-rise residential buildings within 500 meters of the main gate. The video below was filmed from behind the main gate at a building next to the Haja Layla Alkabbashi Mosque.
📍15.5484892, 32.5042752 (gate)
📍15.548731, 32.508878 (point of view)
After the fighting yesterday, RSF control tall buildings on three sides of Armored Corps (north, east, and south).
SAF strongpoint northwest of the base
Gunfire from a SAF sniper is heard in the above video, while the person filming insults and belittles the RSF, saying, “Go back to Niger.” This was filmed about 600 meters northwest of the Armored Corps gate, on Al Shajara Avenue. The video suggests that the SAF still control a buffer area west of the base, whereas areas directly bordering the north, east, and some southern parts of the base are now controlled by RSF.
Similarly, below is a video from another SAF strongpoint on a rooftop. The location is unclear, but this could be outside the base itself.
Because there are committed fighters at such strongpoints in and around Al Shajara, the RSF are unlikely to vanquish all the defenders quickly. But if the army can’t regroup its forces into a coherent whole and reestablish a defensive perimeter, it will have difficulty holding out. Although a rooftop position like this is advantageous, it is not invincible as it can be attacked by mortars, ground assaults, and sniper fire.
Violations against prisoners of war
RSF took an unknown number of prisoners. This video shows them abusing and humiliating a prisoner without providing urgently needed medical treatment, in violation of both Sudanese and international law.
Likewise, this video shows RSF beating a prisoner captured during the attack on the Armored Corps base. It appears somebody tried to shoot him too. Execution of prisoners of war is a serious war crime in both Sudanese and international law.
And here is a third video of RSF with at least two prisoners of war. The RSF appear to have stripped the soldiers of their uniforms and are transporting them. The person filming, a known RSF propagandist who frequently posts violent and incendiary videos, directs his comments to the defenders of General Command, threatening them.
There were also some videos of wounded and dead, which we have not shared.
RSF’s use of child soldiers
Several videos show child soldiers in the vicinity of Al Shajara, including this one in which a group of boys is operating a combat vehicle.
Additional combat videos
These videos have not yet been geolocated. We will add geolocation information to this post when it becomes available.
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