Myanmar Junta’s War Crimes Escalate as It Loses Ground to Resistance

The Myanmar junta continues to commit war crimes, escalating bombing and shelling of civilian targets amid ongoing fighting with an alliance of three ethnic armies across northern Shan and Rakhine states, the ethnic rebel groups said.

The Brotherhood Alliance of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA), which are conducting the large-scale coordinated offensive dubbed Operation 1027, said the junta is intentionally bombarding civilian areas in villages and towns, as well as the country’s historic sites, while struggling to defend its bases.

“The military government has committed a record number of war crimes in 2023,” the ethnic alliance said in a statement on Wednesday.

After being attacked by TNLA troops on Tuesday, three junta bases in Kutkai, Namtu and Kyaukme townships shelled civilian targets, killing a civilian and injuring another, according to the TNLA and local media reports.

Also, a junta unit based in northern Shan State’s capital Lashio used a multiple launch rocket system to bombard Hman Pain Village in the township and a junta fighter jet bombed two more villages in Lashio Township.

A fighter jet and a Y12 airplane were also used to bomb areas near Kho Phate Village in Namtu Township on the same day, said the ethnic alliance.

Intense clashes continued in Namtu town as TNLA troops attempted to seize the junta base there, which the junta defended using fighter jets and helicopter gunships.

On Monday, two residents were killed in Namtu town as the junta used a Harbin Y12 airplane to bomb the town.

Due to the ongoing fighting, nearly 800 Namtu residents are sheltering at a school and a monastery in the town, according to local rescue groups. The junta has also blocked internet and phone access in Namtu since Tuesday.

Eight civilians were killed and 25 injured in Laukkai town, the capital of Kokang Self-Administrative Region in northern Shan, on Monday when two junta heavy explosives struck near a hotel in the residential ward of Ton Chain, said the Brotherhood Alliance.

So far 148 civilians including 24 children have been killed and 265 injured in junta artillery and air strikes targeting civilian areas across northern Shan during the two months since the launch of Operation 1027, said local media outlet Shwe Phee Myay News Agency, which tracks civilian deaths.

As of mid-December, since Oct. 27, 120,000 civilians have been displaced by the escalation of fighting in northern Shan State, said the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

As part of Operation 1027, the AA managed to seize the Mrauk-U District Police Station in the historic city of Mrauk-U in Rakhine State on Tuesday, the ethnic alliance said.

On Tuesday, the junta conducted artillery and air strikes as well as drone strikes on civilian targets in Mrauk-U, killing around five people including child refugees. That followed the killing of nine other civilians in a period of three days in junta bombardments of residential areas in Mrauk-U.

AA troops were also attempting to seize a strategic hilltop base from the junta in Paletwa Township in neighboring Chin State.

Clashes between junta troops and the AA were also reported in Kyauktaw and Pauktaw townships on the same day, prompting the regime to attack and bombard civilian targets and residential areas.

The AA has widened Operation 1027 into Rakhine State since Nov. 13, attacking and seizing over 140 junta bases, police stations and border guard outposts.

Since then, 37 civilians have been killed and more than 120 injured, and more than 111,000 people have been newly displaced across the state as of Dec. 15, according to the UN aid group.

The Myanmar junta also faces relentless attacks from People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) under the command of the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and many ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) elsewhere across the country.

Irrawaddy News