Battle For Myanmar’s Rakhine State Set to Escalate, Brotherhood Alliance Says

Fighting between the Arakan Army and junta troops will intensify in Rakhine State within a few days as the regime sends in a large number of reinforcements as well as weapons and ammunition, the Brotherhood Alliance said in a statement late Sunday.

The Arakan Army (AA) is one of the three powerful ethnic armies that comprise the alliance, which launched a major anti-regime offensive across northern Shan State in late October.

The Brotherhood Alliance said AA troops have been on the offensive in the western state and have seized junta bases despite heavy attacks from land, sea and air.

Most of the 400 troops who fled to India after recent clashes with AA troops in Paletwa Township in neighboring Chin State have been re-deployed to Rakhine State, the Brotherhood Alliance said, adding that Myanmar’s military is sending reinforcements and military supplies to the western state by sea.

The junta’s move to reinforce its positions in Rakhine State follows a halt in attacks by the Brotherhood Alliance against its targets in northern Shan State more than a week after a China-brokered ceasefire was signed between the alliance and the junta.

The Arakan Army displays weapons and ammunition it seized after capturing the headquarters of junta Infantry Battalion 539in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State on Jan. 16. / AA

On Sunday, intense fighting continued in six townships of northern Rakhine State – Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk U, Pauktaw, Ramree and Rathedaung – as AA troops attacked regime bases and attempted to seize towns from the junta, according to the Brotherhood Alliance and local media reports.

On Monday morning, AA troops attacked regime targets in Kyauktaw town. The fighting in the town follows the capture of junta Artillery Battalion 377 and Light Infantry Battalion 539 in Kyauktaw Township on Jan 14 and 16, respectively.

About 300 junta troops from Battalion 539, and their family members, surrendered to the AA, which also detained junta tactical commander Lt-Colonel Nyi Nyi Win who had sustained injuries.

AA troops also reportedly launched rocket attacks on the junta naval headquarters of Danyawaddy, one of the largest naval bases in the country. It is located in an area of Kyaukphyu Township where a China-invested project is being built. After the attack by the AA, a junta gunboat randomly shelled nearby areas, Rakhine media outlet Nainjara reported, citing residents.

The Brotherhood Alliance said the junta bombed the town of Minbya on Sunday night with a Harbin Y-12 airplane and that civilian homes were destroyed.

An estimated 800 reinforcements from the state capital Sittwe arrived in a village in Minbya Township on four military barges on Sunday, Rakhine media outlet Narinjara reported, citing residents.

The Arakan Army has taken control of Pauktaw Town near Sittwe after junta troops vacated the town following two months of attacks, local media reported.

Intense fighting resumed in northern Rakhine State on Nov. 13 last year after the AA widened the Brotherhood Alliance’s Operation 1027 to the state. It has seized Paletwa town in neighboring Chin State and over 160 junta bases, outposts and battalion headquarters across northern Rakhine and Paletwa Township.

The junta has responded to its losses on the battlefield with a wave of bombings of villages and residential areas of towns, killing dozens of civilians.

Irrawaddy News