Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Sudan Control Map & Timeline: Former Rebels Join Fight - June 2023

Hidden image for crawlers(To see other maps in this series, view all Sudan articles on PolGeoNow.)

This marks the first fully up-to-date edition of our new Sudan map series, after several retrospective reports on the situations in previous months. The latest of those, featuring a map of control at the end of January 2024, is being published alongside this one. 

To access our full catalog of map reports covering control in Sudan and many other countries, sign up for our Control Map Subscription Service - popular with major government and international organizations, but available to individual subscribers at just US$19.99 per month!

Sudan War: Map of who controlled what in Sudan on June 11, 2024, showing the situation after most of Darfur's former rebel Joint Force joined the fight alongside the army. Best Sudan control map online, thoroughly researched for maximum accuracy. Shows territorial control by the government-affiliated Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary, and rebel groups in Sudan including the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement's Abdelwahid El Nur faction (SLA-AW/SLM-AW) in Darfur's Jebel Marra, the SPLM-N faction of Abdelaziz El Hilu in the Two Areas of South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile. Also shows the area of control of the Ngok Dinka Abyei Area Administration (AAA) within the disputed Abyei Box, and the known bases and area of operation of the remaining Neutral Joint Force of former rebels in Darfur who haven't taken sides. Includes disputed territories claimed by other countries, including the Halaib Triangle, Bir Tawil, and Wadi Halfa Salient along the border with Egypt, plus Kafia Kingi, 14-mile, Abyei, Heglig (Hejlij), Kaka, and Bebnis along the South Sudan border, showing which parts are controlled by which country. Includes key towns and other locations from the news, including the Sennar Sugar Factory, Omdurman, Bahri, El Fau (Al Fao), Jebel Dayir, Delling (Dilling, Dalang), Zurrug, Mellit, Korma, Ayn Siro, Tina border crossing, Misteriya, Al Dabbah (El Debba), Babanusa, Lagawa (Laqawa), Um Rawaba and many more.
Map by Evan Centanni and Djordje Djukic, starting from base map by Koen Adams of onestopmap.com. "Neutral Joint Force" has been redefined to exclude Darfuri former rebel groups who have joined the fight against the RSF, now subsumed under "Govt./SAF & allies". See below for a detailed accounting of which groups are included in each territorial control category. To use this map in your own materials, please contact us to arrange permission.

Timeline by Djordje Djukic and Evan Centanni

Darfur's Joint Force Enters War Against RSF, Kicking off Battle of El Fasher

In the four months since the date depicted on PolGeoNow's previous Sudan control map, lines of control have remained mostly stable, except for a major SAF breakthrough within the city of Omdurman and the RSF's takeover of Mellit, the headquarters of Darfur's Joint Force coalition. Other changes to the map have been made to show where new evidence has emerged of RSF presence (or lack thereof), but these don't represent major victories or defeats. The bigger story has, instead, been a critical realignment in alliances.

The leaders of Darfur's most prominent "Joint Force" former rebel groups, the SLM-MM and JEM-Jibril, have been outspoken against the RSF since November 2023, even recruiting and training new SAF-allied forces in eastern Sudan. But until recently, their field commanders based in Darfur, where the core of each group's forces were stationed, had kept unofficially neutral in the war, helping preserve a year-long, citizen-mediated ceasefire in the city of El Fasher. That all changed after Joint Force troops started fighting alongside the SAF around Khartoum in late March, leading to RSF retaliation across Sudan. By mid-April, the group's major commanders in Darfur had joined the fight, kicking off a devastating, full-scale battle for the region's capital.

A few months ago, "neutral Joint Force" was a useful label for most of the former rebel forces in Darfur, but today it can only fairly apply to the minority of factions who refused to enter the battle, and now say they're launching an official "Neutral Joint Force" separate from the larger SAF-allied one. Our map has been changed accordingly, now subsuming SAF-allied groups within "Govt./SAF and allies", while reserving the "Neutral Joint Force" symbols from the January map for the new strictly neutral coalition. Nearly every Darfuri former rebel group has split into factions over the question of whether to ally with the SAF, with the longtime leaders of the SLM-TC and GSLF, alongside their loyalist factions, heading the neutral camp.

Sudanese flag
Country Short Name:

• Sudan (common English usage)
• the Sudan (official English name at UN)
• as-Sūdān (Arabic)
Full Official Name:  
• Republic of the Sudan (English)
• Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān (Arabic)
Khartoum (official)
• Port Sudan (temporary, unofficial seat of many government agencies and officials)

SRAC's Musa Hilal Sides with SAF

Another important realignment relates to Musa Hilal, a onetime RSF ally among Darfur's so-called "Janjaweed" militias. He fell out with the RSF in 2017 after refusing to join it, and now heads an armed force called the Sudanese Revolutionary Awakening Council (SRAC) with a base in Misteriya, North Darfur. 

Though Hilal had been labeled as a suspected SAF sympathizer since the beginning of the war, his relations with the RSF had appeared to be warming in early 2024, and some dissident factions of his group had already joined the RSF. So it was all the more notable when, this April, he at last publicly declared his group's support for the SAF. 

The significance of Hilal's allegiance is about more than military strength - the man himself is a community leader among the same cultural groups that the RSF draws on as its base, and some reports claim he's already inspired RSF defections in El Fasher.

What do the different colors on the Sudan Control Map mean?

The map above groups the authorities controlling different parts of Sudan into several categories, as named in the legend at the map's lower right. This section of the report explains each of those categories in more detail. For full names and brief descriptions of Sudan’s major rebel and former rebel groups, see the next section of the report.

  • Govt./SAF and allies: The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are the official military of Sudan. They also control the country’s internationally-recognized government, headed by the Sovereignty Council, with the SAF’s commander chairing that committee and basically ruling by decree. As a rule, local governments in areas of Sudan not controlled by the RSF (or rebel groups) are affiliated with this administration, which is why even sparsely-populated areas of eastern Sudan are included in this category. Besides the SAF itself, allied forces with an armed presence on the ground include:
  • RSF and allies: The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are a powerful paramilitary group that officially comprised a wing of Sudan’s armed forces, but has been in rebellion against the SAF since April 2023. Allies of the RSF with a presence on the ground include:
  • Unaligned opposition: This category includes three groups that dominate specific territory in defiance of the Sudanese government, while not officially taking sides in the SAF-RSF war. Though they aren’t directly connected to each other, they do share a history of ties to South Sudan (which now has good relations with both the SAF-led government and the RSF).
    • SPLM-N El Hilu: The Abdelaziz El Hilu faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North is the largest rebel group in Sudan that's never made permanent peace with the government. A leftover part of the original SPLM rebel organization, which became the government of South Sudan after that country’s independence, the SPLM-N El Hilu says it’s fighting for a democratic and religion-neutral Sudan, possibly with an option for independence. It controls parts of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, known as the “Two Areas”, and in recent months has sometimes cooperated with the SAF, but other times fought against it. The other major wing of the SPLM-N, led by Malik Agar, is now a close ally of the SAF and included under “Govt./SAF and allies” on the map.
    • SLM-AW: The Abdel Wahid El Nur faction of the Sudan Liberation Army is the only Darfuri rebel group that’s maintained a strong presence inside Sudan ever since the rebellion there began in the early 2000s. It’s never made any peace deal with the government, and has continuously held parts of the Jebel Marra, a mountain range in the middle of Darfur, which it calls the “Liberated Territories”. The SLM-AW professes strict neutrality in the SAF-RSF war, being opposed to both sides - though one of its commanders seems to be quietly reinforcing the anti-RSF coalition within El Fasher (but probably not controlling any specific territory). The group is also called SLA-AW, and was part of the same group as the SLM-MM before they parted ways in 2005.
    • AAA: The self-proclaimed “Abyei Area Administration”, which takes its name from a planned government intended to represent all people of the disputed Abyei Area, is run by South Sudan-affiliated members of the Area’s majority Ngok Dinka people. It purports to govern the whole Abyei Area, which is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, but mainly operates in the populated region stretching from Abyei town to east of Agok, and is shut out of the Area’s northern third. The AAA isn’t an armed group, and it shares authority with UN peacekeepers and the South Sudanese military, but there are Ngok Dinka militias associated with it.
  • Foreign governments: No other country occupies any area that’s undisputedly part of Sudan, but some zones claimed by both Sudan and a neighboring country are under the other country’s control:
  • Neutral Joint Force: The former rebel groups of Darfur together make up what’s known as the “Joint Force”, which until recently was behaving mostly as a neutral actor, even after some of its top leaders publicly sided with the SAF. However, in April the pro-SAF faction won the support of most commanders on the ground, and the remaining neutral parties have reconstituted a “Neutral Joint Force”. Because of this, our map now treats pro-SAF Joint Force groups as part of “Govt./SAF and allies”, and only the new Neutral group as a separate category. The Neutral Joint Force’s members are said to include the loyalist factions of the SLM-TC and GSLF, JEM-Sandal, and one remnant force of the Sudanese Alliance (so far the newly-declared SLM-DM group hasn’t been listed among them). The Neutral Joint Force probably doesn’t hold any major blocks of territory, but its fighters do seem to dominate certain towns and villages, and we’ve marked a “general area of presence” for them in areas where there’s reason to believe they (and not only the pro-SAF Joint Force) are present.
  • UN peacekeepers: The main police authority within the disputed Abyei Area is the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), a peacekeeping mission made up mostly of troops from Ghana, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. It's mission covers the whole Abyei Area, though it operates mostly in populated places, and is shut out of small areas along the South Sudan border by that country's troops.
  • Mixed/unclear: Areas marked as “mixed/unclear” include:
    • Zones contested between the SAF and RSF camps or used by both, where neither side has established dominance or where information is unavailable or conflicting
    • The margins between areas controlled by one group and another, where the exact course of the boundary between each side’s control is unknown or not clearly defined
    • Areas within the broad scope of the conflict zone but with no evidence of presence by any of the parties listed above, even the SAF-affiliated civilian government. These generally are sparsely-populated areas that may be completely lawless or governed exclusively by local authorities, like community militias or quasi-traditional Native Administration organizations. 
    • Areas with a strong presence of forces that are unaligned or opposed to the group that’s dominant in their region. This includes some RSF-unsupportive kinship-based militias in the Darfur and Kordofan regions, the Misseriya administration and militias in the northern Abyei Area, Titweng militias from South Sudan in the southern Abyei Area, civilian groups that have independently taken up arms for self-protection but don't endorse the SAF, and possible SPLM-N holdouts in the hills northeast of Blue Nile state’s Kurmuk town. 

People following the Sudan war closely will notice that many areas marked on other Sudan war maps as RSF territory are instead categorized on our map as “mixed/unclear”. This stems from a deliberate PolGeoNow policy of erring on the side of caution when illustrating territorial control. Though the RSF indeed controls every Darfur state capital except El Fasher, it doesn’t have a troop presence in every part of those states, nor does it have a widespread system of civilian governance for its territories. In a some of the areas we’ve marked as “mixed/unclear”, PolGeoNow has found evidence of neutral or anti-RSF groups rivaling the RSF and its allies for local influence. 

In other areas, there’s simply a striking lack of any news at all. This implies to us that the RSF is not present in those areas, because even in very remote or rural areas of RSF activity, some reports normally still come through describing RSF attacks on civilians or SAF airstrikes on RSF positions. This doesn't rule out the possibility that those areas might be home to RSF-allied Arab militias or community governments, but it doesn’t rule out the opposite either.

In eastern Sudan, the logic for marking even the most remote areas as “Govt./SAF and allies” is this: In these regions, even where no SAF or allied security forces are present, local authorities can generally be assumed to be affiliated with the SAF-led government of Sudan. We acknowledge that there’s room for debate over this, but at this time we feel it’s the best way to depict the situation, using the outer edges of the “mixed/unclear” area as an intuitive illustration of the farthest plausible limits of RSF (and rebel) contestation over Sudan’s territory.

Sudan's Rebel and Former Rebel Groups: Names & Abbreviations

Below is a brief guide to Sudan's rebel groups and former rebel forces, which also serves as a key to abbreviations used for them in the timeline. “Former rebel groups” is a term PolGeoNow uses for rebel forces that have signed permanent peace agreements with Sudan's government, though news media often still calls them "rebels". Rebel groups who haven't made peace with the government are widely referred to as “holdout” groups. For more information and sources on these groups, including details of their role in the first seven months of Sudan’s new civil war, see our October 2023 Sudan control map and timeline report.

Terminology Note: Sudan's major rebel groups are conventionally considered to have both a political wing, which uses “Movement” in its name, and an armed wing, which uses “Army” in its name. For example, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is intended to be a political group whose armed wing is the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), with the combined organization sometimes abbreviated as SPLM/A. In practice, the two variations are usually treated as interchangeable. In our Sudan conflict timeline, PolGeoNow has chosen to stick with the "M" versions, which seem overwhelmingly to be the most commonly used, even when talking about the groups' military activities.

Groups are listed in alphabetical order according to their abbreviated names.

GSLF: Gathering of Sudan Liberation Forces, a Darfuri former rebel group. Longtime leader Tahir Hajar heads the group’s neutral faction, while his former deputy, Abdallah Yahiya, now heads an SAF-allied faction. The group’s name is also translated as Sudan Liberation Forces (SLF), Sudan Liberation Force Alliance (SLFA), or Sudan Liberation Forces Gathering (SLFM).

JEM: The Justice and Equality Movement, a major Darfuri former rebel group now closely associated with the SLM-MM. In 2023 it split into two main factions:

  • JEM-Jibril: The faction headed by the group’s longtime leader Jibril Ibrahim, who is also Minister of Finance in Sudan’s SAF-dominated government. During the period covered in this report, the group fully allied itself with the SAF, after its field commanders in Darfur had previously positioned themselves as neutral. The faction's name is also sometimes rendered as JEM-Ibrahim, JEM-Gibril, or JEM-JI.
  • JEM-Sandal: A neutral faction (often accused of RSF sympathies) led by Suleiman Sandal.

SLM-AW: The main “holdout” rebel faction of Darfur’s Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdel Wahid El Nur. It remains neutral in the SAF-RSF war, though one of its units seems to be quietly participating in the SAF-allied defense of El Fasher. Also known as SLA-AW, SLM/A-AW, SLM-Nur, SLA-Nur, SLA al-Nur, SLA/M al-Nour, and other variations.

SLM-MM: The biggest former rebel faction of Darfur’s Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Minni Minawi, who is also the SAF-backed regional governor of greater Darfur. During the period covered in this report, the group fully allied itself with the SAF, after most of its field commanders in Darfur had previously positioned themselves as neutral. Also known as SLA-MM, SLM/A-MM, SLM-Minawi, SLA-Minawi, or SLM-Minnawi.

SLM-Tambour: A less prominent former rebel faction of Darfur’s Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Mustafa Tambour, now well-known for allying early and strongly with the SAF. Also known as SLM-Tambor or SLA-Tambour, and sometimes abbreviated SLM-T or SLA-T.

SLM-TC: The Sudan Liberation Movement–Transitional Council, a former rebel faction of Darfur’s larger Sudan Liberation Movement. Longtime leader El Hadi Idris leads the group’s neutral faction, as well as the now mostly-defunct Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance of rebel groups, while Salahuddin Adam Tor “Salah Rasas” heads an SAF-allied faction. The group is also known as the SLA-TC.

SPLM-N Agar: The main government-allied faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North, led by Malik Agar, who’s become something of a political right-hand man to SAF leader El Burhan. His comparatively small force of fighters are now at least partially integrated into the SAF. Also known as SPLA-N Agar, SPLM/A-N Agar, SPLM-N Malik, SPLM-N MA, SPLM-N SRF (because the faction inherited the larger group’s membership in the now-mostly-defunct Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance), and other variations.

SPLM-N El Hilu: The main “holdout” rebel faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North, led by Abdelaziz El Hilu. It remains neutral in the SAF-RSF war, and has fought against both sides, but has shown itself more willing to cooperate with the SAF than the RSF. Also known as SPLA-N El Hilu, SPLM/A-N Hilu, SPLM-N al-Hilu, SPLM-N Hilu, SPLM-N Abdelaziz, and other variations.

Sudanese Alliance: Another prominent Darfuri former rebel group, based in West Darfur until the RSF takeover of the state in 2023. The group was thrown into disarray after the June 2023 murder of its leader, state governor Khamis Abakar, and the subsequent defeat of its forces in Geneina. However, during the period covered in this report, it would become clearer that an SAF-allied remnant of the group was led by Bukhari Ahmed, while one Hafez Abdel Nabi headed a neutral remnant.

What is the "Joint Force"?

The “Joint Force” is the name a coalition theoretically including all former rebel groups from the Darfur region that signed the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement with the Sudanese government, which at that time was affiliated with both the SAF and RSF. That includes all major "rebel" forces in Sudan except for the SLM-AW, which didn't sign the peace deal, and the SPLM-N, which isn't based in Darfur (its "Agar" faction did sign the JPA, but under different terms than the Joint Force groups). 

As explained in the intro to this report, the Joint Force has fractured over the question of whether to back the SAF in its war against the RSF, with most member groups splitting into pro-SAF and neutral factions, as detailed in the above list. The pro-SAF camp seems to have won out in the struggle for control of the name "Joint Force", taking the majority of the coalition's fighters with it, while the remaining neutral factions have regrouped as a separate "Neutral Joint Force".

Darfur's Joint Force is formally known as the Joint Armed Struggle Movement Forces (JASMF), and has also been called the Joint Forces, Darfur Joint Force, Joint Protection Force (JPF), Joint Civilian Protection Forces (JCPF), Joint Forces of Darfur Movements (JFDMs), or Joint Force of Armed Struggle Movements (JFASM). It shouldn’t be confused with the Chad-Sudan Joint Border Force, which consists of troops from the two countries’ official militaries.

Sudan Civil War: Timeline of Events

The following is a timeline of territorial control changes, key political and military events, and other important news in Sudan's current conflict, covering the period from January 31, 2024 (the date depicted on our previous Sudan control map) up to the present.
Information collected directly from news media, UN and NGO reports, and other online sources is indicated by in-line links to the source materials. Additional reporting is sourced from the ACLED conflict database (see footnote for full citation), with the "(ACLED)" label indicating that that's the main source for the preceding text in a timeline entry. Note that PolGeoNow is aware of significant error in ACLED reporting, particularly regarding the locations of events, and we have taken that into account when evaluating claims found there.

Note on spelling: The national language and common tongue of Sudan is Arabic. There's no single agreed-upon way to convert the spelling of words from the Arabic alphabet into English letters, and systems based on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) are generally not the closest match for how words are pronounced in Sudan. As a result, different publications will often have different ways of spelling the names of Sudanese places and people in English.

In PolGeoNow's Sudan coverage, we favor spelling the names of places and people in ways that more closely reflect local pronunciation, for which we look to the online English service of Radio Dabanga as a key reference. However, in some cases we may choose to use the most widespread spelling of a name even if it's not the closest match to local pronunciation, in order to keep it recognizable to readers. Where we think it may be helpful, we've included alternate spellings in parentheses at the first mention of certain place names.

February 4-5, 2024

In the disputed Abyei Area (claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan), a new wave of militia attacks reached deeper into the stretch between Abyei and Agok towns than ever before (ACLED). Some news reports blamed the attacks on an ongoing campaign against the local Ngok Dinka people by so-called Titweng fighters, many of whom claim the southern part of the Abyei Area for the related Twic Dinka people of South Sudan. However, like a previous incident in late January, the UN would later attribute the violence instead to fighting between Ngok Dinka fighters and members of the separate Nuer people. The Titweng fighters have been alleged to have help from another militia with links to a Nuer-led South Sudanese rebel group (ACLED), though the leader of that militia has denied involvement

February 9, 2024

In South Kordofan, some reports said SPLM-N El Hilu captured Habila after surrounding the town and attacking RSF forces there, possibly with help from an SAF-affiliated militia (ACLED), while the RSF reportedly raided several villages near the town and killed 24 people. The rebel group also reportedly seized a town just south of Habila from the RSF. However, some reports said they couldn’t confirm whether Habila had been captured by the rebels. A report several weeks later would say that the RSF had indeed “reportedly left” Habila on this date and that the town was under SPLM-N control, while a profile of the area from the following April would imply that the RSF had been in control since February. 

Reported RSF raids on surrounding areas would continue over the following weeks, in the Habila area as well as others, including the surroundings of Delling (Dilling, Dalang, Dalanj), Lagawa (Laqawa), and the mountainous area of Jebel Dayir (Jebel El Dayir, Jabal ad Dayr, Jebel Dair, Jebel Al Daier) within North Kordofan state - which some reports said was an SPLM-N El Hilu control area, despite no mention of it in previous reports on rebel presence in the region.

February 15, 2024

SAF-allied representatives from Darfuri former rebel groups met with SAF leaders near Omdurman to coordinate their participation in the fight against the RSF. The delegation reportedly included representatives from the SLM-MM, JEM-Jibril, and a dissident delegation from the otherwise neutral GSLF. 

In a possible attempt to counter claims by neutral SLM-TC and GSLF leaders to represent the real Joint Force, a statement from the Omdurman delegation referred to SAF-allied fighters from its own groups as the “joint forces of the armed struggle movements”, a variation of the Joint Force’s formal name. The official name of the group is also translated as Joint Armed Struggle Movement Forces (JASMF) or Joint Force of Armed Struggle Movements (JFASM).

February 16-19, 2024

The SAF broke the siege of its Corps of Engineers base in southern Omdurman for the first time since the start of the war, severing the link between RSF troops in western and eastern parts of the city. This represented the first major offensive success for the SAF since the start of the conflict, although the RSF remained in control of large parts of western and southern Omdurman. RSF forces in Omdurman’s east could still be resupplied by boat across the river from Bahri (a.k.a. North Khartoum), though this was said not to be a sustainable means of defending the area.

February 21, 2024

As many as 14 people were killed in an armed robbery southeast of Nyala, on the road to Ed Daein (El Daein, Ad Da'en) in East Darfur state. The attack was allegedly carried out by members of the SLM-MM former rebel group, suggesting that the area lay at the edge of the RSF’s control zone despite being deep within an “RSF-controlled” state. And indeed, it would later be reported elsewhere that SLM-MM fighters were stationed in a village just to the north (ACLED).

February 22-23, 2024

The so-called “Abyei Area Administration” (AAA) accused some South Sudanese troops of participating in the looting of a hospital and other sites near Agok town, which it said was led by Titweng fighters. A local official from the home county of the Titweng in South Sudan denied that his people had been involved, implying the culprits were members of the Nuer people, with help from RSF fighters. South Sudan is known to have troops stationed around Agok town, within the disputed Abyei Area, and both the Ngok Dinka-run AAA and the rival Twic Dinka Titweng agree that the Area should be part of South Sudan. 

February 25, 2024

A pro-SAF faction split off from the strictly neutral SLM-TC former rebel group after a dissident commander reportedly met with SAF leader El Burhan.

February 25-26, 2024

The SAF reportedly surrounded RSF troops at the headquarters of the national Radio and Television Corporation in Omdurman, also capturing the city’s Abrof neighborhood.

February 27, 2024

According to an apparently Sudanese organization calling itself the Central Observatory for Human Rights (COHR), 46 people were killed in attacks on villages in rural parts of Gezira (Al-Jazira) state between February 6 and February 26, presumably all by the RSF. The Sudan Tribune also reported (in a misdated article) that it found the RSF had killed almost 100 civilians in attacks on 69 villages in Gezira “throughout February”, including 43 civilians in just three villages.

March 1, 2024

Radio Dabanga reported that the RSF had again attacked Habila in South Kordofan, killing “dozens of people”, abducting 25 women, and prompting 40,000 people to flee. The report didn’t mention any SPLM-N El Hilu response, again suggesting that the group might not be present in the town anymore.

March 2, 2024

SAF forces reportedly recaptured the well-known Sennar Sugar Factory northwest of Sennar city, which the RSF had taken over in December (ACLED). This took place as part of an apparent SAF push back into the area around the state border with Gezira. Clashes between the SAF and RSF near the factory would continue at least into late April (ACLED).

Meanwhile, a major force from the SLM-AW rebel group reportedly arrived in western El Fasher (Al-Fashir) from the Jebel Marra (Jebel Marrah, Jabal Marrah), a mountain range largely controlled by the group (ACLED). The SLM-AW insists that it’s strictly neutral in the SAF-RSF war, though its presence in El Fasher is led by a relatively autonomous commander, Youssif Karjakola, who was until last year based in Libya. He had already brought some fighters to El Fasher in November to “protect civilians”, apparently in cooperation with the local Joint Force commanders and elements of the SAF. An officer from the SLM-MM was quoted as saying that the recently arrived SLM-AW unit had come to fight alongside the Joint Force. 

Note: The SLM-AW was referred to by its alternate name, SLA-AW, in our previous reports. Because the SLM-AW seems to be in El Fasher to unofficially reinforce the Joint Force, rather than to hold any territory of its own, we haven’t indicated it on the map as one of the parties in control of the city.

March 2-4, 2024

In Gezira state, the SAF attempted to advance east of El Managil (Al-Manaqil), towards Wad Medani (Wad Madani), but was repelled by the RSF, reportedly losing control of a village it had held closer to the Wad Medani side (ACLED) and retreating to a position close to El Managil. Other reports said the SAF had only withdrawn to a town about halfway between the two cities.

March 4, 2024

The SAF reportedly captured Al-Hilal Stadium in Omdurman, while allegedly killing at least two civilians in an airstrike on RSF-held Muglad (Mujlad) in West Kordofan.

March 5, 2024

Fighting took place on the border of Gezira and Gedaref (El Gadarif, Al-Qadarif) states near El Fau (Al-Fau, El Fao), as well as north of Sennar, where video footage suggested the RSF had defeated a unit of SAF soldiers made up of fighters from SPLM-N Agar, a onetime rebel faction now closely affiliated with the SAF (these soldiers are also sometimes considered to still represent the SPLM-N Agar former rebel group).

Meanwhile, new reporting from the Wall Street Journal reaffirmed previous claims of involvement by Ukrainian special forces in Sudan, where they were said to be supporting the SAF against the RSF. For its part, the RSF had reportedly received support early in the war from an enemy of Ukraine, Russian quasi-private military company the Wagner Group, but that appeared to have dropped off after mid-2023. Russia itself backs the SAF-led government diplomatically, and is even reportedly planning to supply the SAF with weapons in exchange for expanded use of a port on the Red Sea. The Ukrainian troops were reported to have arrived in the country in August 2023, conducting night-time operations in and around Khartoum, as well as drone strikes. They were also reportedly providing training to the SAF, including on how to conduct drone strikes without their assistance.

After controversy erupted over an attempt to ban all cross-border humanitarian aid from Chad, the SAF-led government announced that it would allow it to enter through the Tina (Al Tinah, Tine) border crossing in North Darfur, which the Sudan Tribune reported was under the control of “the Sudanese army and armed groups signatories to the Juba peace agreement” (that is, members of the Joint Force). PolGeoNow has not discovered any evidence of the SAF itself being present in Tina, but it is within the known area of influence of SAF-allied Joint Force groups the SLM-MM and JEM-Jibril. 

Since most of the Darfur border near populated regions is controlled by the RSF rather than the SAF, the aid ban would have been difficult to enforce, and apparently relied on international aid groups feeling they must respect the wishes of the country’s government.

March 6, 2024

Local leaders near the Chadian border north of West Darfur capital Geneina (El Geneina, Al-Junaynah) appeared to accuse the JEM of “targeting nomadic people and stealing livestock to drag the Arabs into war”. This suggested the area was not under the control of the RSF, despite outside observers often describing the whole state as RSF-held (the northernmost part of the state is also probably not under RSF control, and little information is available from most of the state’s southern areas either).

March 6-7, 2024

Two days of clashes took place in South Kordofan as SPLM-N El Hilu reportedly attacked a gathering of RSF forces, apparently at a location not far northeast of Kadugli (Kaduqli) - an area where PolGeoNow hasn't noted any prior reports of RSF presence since the current war began. The report said the RSF had initially repelled the attack, but that the rebels had pushed it out of the area the next day. ACLED, citing the International Organization for Migration (IOM), also reported that SPLM-N El Hilu forces had attacked civilians in the same area the day before the clashes. 

The apparent presence of RSF or allied forces both northeast of Kadugli and around Habila suggested that the rural tract between those two areas might not be under SPLM-N El Hilu’s control as PolGeoNow had assessed on previous maps.

March 7, 2024

Renewed clashes took place between the SAF and the RSF in El Fasher. 

Sudan War Monitor also reported that former Darfuri rebel groups the SLM-MM, JEM-Jibril, and SLM-Tambour were engaging in massive recruitment drives in eastern Sudan to support the SAF against the RSF, while SLM-Tambour said it had deployed its forces to El Fau after having previously trained elsewhere in Gedaref state. New recruits with JEM-Jibril would also soon join the SAF-led coalition amassing in the El Fau area.

March 8, 2024

A group of RSF fighters reached an area just 12 kilometers west of Sennar city.

March 12, 2024

The SAF continued to advance in eastern Omdurman, shrinking the RSF pocket of control there, in which hundreds or even thousands of RSF fighters were surrounded, while also capturing the national broadcast building. An attempted RSF breakout from the pocket was also foiled.

Meanwhile, an RSF unit from South Darfur began demanding 50% of the revenue raised by an independent local government in the border town of Um Dukhun (Umm Dukhun), Central Darfur state. The local government had been formed early in the war to fill the power vacuum in the area. Over the next week, the RSF would forcibly assert control over the town’s governance after community leaders refused to cooperate.

March 10, 2024

In North Kordofan state, RSF forces reportedly clashed with SAF and allied fighters at a prominent village north of Um Rawaba (Umm Ruwaba) and east of Bara (ACLED).

March 14, 2024

The SAF captured a bridge connecting the old center of Omdurman with the city’s Ombadda neighborhood.

March 16, 2024

An RSF attempt to capture the SAF’s Signal Corps base in Bahri was repelled. By this point, the RSF was in control of most of Bahri, with the exception of two SAF pockets of resistance, including the Signal Corps base. 

Meanwhile, the RSF continued with its attempts to capture the headquarters of the SAF’s 22nd Infantry Division in Babanusa (Babanousa), West Kordofan, leading to heavy fighting. Since the start of the RSF’s siege of the SAF base on January 22, 95% of Babanusa’s population had reportedly been displaced to nearby villages or beyond.

March 19, 2024

In battles with the RSF, the SAF reportedly recaptured the area of El Obeid (Al-Ubayyid) airport, on the southeastern edge of the North Kordofan city (ACLED).

March 20, 2024

Clashes erupted in El Fasher between the neutral, loyalist faction of the SLM-TC and its new pro-SAF dissident faction, with the dissidents apparently retreating to the SAF base in the city (ACLED).

March 21, 2024

Eleven children and two teachers were reportedly killed in an SAF airstrike that hit a school in a South Kordofan village under the control of SPLM-N El Hilu southeast of Habila. SAF airstrikes on areas of SPLM-N El Hilu control would continue over the following days. 

Though common in previous years, SAF strikes on SPLM-N El Hilu territory had seemed to have stopped in recent months amid apparent increased cooperation between the group and the SAF. Ten days later, fighting between the two parties would be reported from an area north of Kadugli, while earlier in the month there had been reports of scattered SAF airstrikes apparently targeting other SPLM-N El Hilu positions, possibly as a response to the rebel forces shelling SAF-held Kadugli (ACLED) or another SAF town east of Habila.

March 24, 2024

On his way from the northern city of Atbara to Khartoum, SLM-MM leader Minni Minawi announced his former rebel group’s active entry into the fight against the RSF, after already declaring his opposition to the RSF four months earlier (though the major part of his force in Darfur had so far continued acting neutral).

March 25, 2024

The RSF announced the establishment of a new civilian government for Gezira state within the areas it controlled - the first of its kind for the paramilitary group, which has set up governments for some cities but generally stayed out of civilian administration. The new government was ostensibly selected by local delegates from around the state. 

In analysis from two months later, the RSF-backed Gezira government would be characterized as part of a larger program led by certain RSF advisors and sympathizers to create civilian governments in various areas, including parts of Darfur, to be known as the Civil Support Authority (Hayat al-Isnat al-Madani in Arabic). However, “independent Sudanese civil society sources” would assert that so far this Authority had achieved neither popular support nor effectiveness.

The day after the announcement of the Gezira government’s formation, the leader of the JEM-Sandal former rebel faction would publicly congratulate the state’s people on it. JEM-Sandal had already been accused of supporting the RSF before, and its forces were said to be gathering in the loosely RSF-controlled West Darfur area of Jebel Moon, though accusations of RSF sympathies are routinely lobbed at anyone refusing to side with the SAF. The reliability of these accusations would particularly be called into question two months later, when JEM-Sandal was welcomed into an alliance with Darfur’s most respected neutral Joint Force leaders.

March 26, 2024

The loyalist faction of the SLM-TC announced that it would withdraw from El Fasher, apparently ending its participation in the Joint Force, so it could hold onto neutrality in the SAF-RSF war. The decision was likely a response to the entry of much larger Joint Force member SLM-MM into the fight alongside the SAF, as well as the recent defection of an SLM-TC faction to the pro-SAF side. 

In the east, over a thousand new SLM-MM fighters were preparing to enter the war after graduating from SAF-supported training in Gedaref state, while new JEM-Jibril recruits were training in Kassala state. A week or so later, SLM-MM fighters would be reported to have deployed to the front line in El Fau, Gedaref, while some SLM-Tambour fighters were already present there (ACLED).

March 26-27, 2024

The SAF, fighting alongside the SLM-MM for possibly the first time since the war began, reportedly captured the Doha neighborhood in Omdurman, as well as areas near the city’s largest market and the Wad El Bashir Bridge.

March 29, 2024

A claimed non-military convoy of the SLM-AW rebel group was attacked by the RSF while entering El Fasher. The attack appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, with the RSF publicizing it as a blow against the SAF-allied SLM-MM. The SLM-AW, neutral in the SAF-RSF conflict, is based in the Jebel Marra to the southwest, but has had a contingent of fighters in El Fasher since November 2023, apparently to quietly and unofficially reinforce the Joint Force and SAF defense of the city.

March 29-30, 2024

SLM-MM fighters reportedly withdrew from a town east of Nyala at community leaders’ request, amid tensions with nearby RSF forces, and the RSF forces looted the town the next day (ACLED).

March 30, 2024

In an apparent escalation of the recently renewed violence between the SAF and SPLM-N El Hilu, reports said the rebel group launched a major attack from the north and the southeast on an SAF-held village north of Kadugli. The attack was reportedly repelled with major losses for the rebels, as well as many civilian deaths (ACLED). More fighting would be reported nine days later from the area to the north that the rebels had attacked from, with the SAF again said to have prevailed (ACLED). SPLM-N El Hilu controls key points further north along the road from Kadugli to Delling.

Late March to early April 2024

The neighboring country of South Sudan deployed additional troops and police into the Abyei Area, apparently as part of an effort to stop the violence between Twic Dinka Titweng militias and the Ngok Dinka people living in the southern half of the disputed zone. The UN pointed out that the presence of South Sudanese forces within the Abyei Area was a violation of the 2011 temporary demilitarization agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, meant to prevent fighting along the two countries’ disputed border. 

April 2, 2024

A mysterious drone strike reportedly killed 12 people at a social event held by a pro-SAF religious militia in Atbara, River Nile state - far outside the usual conflict zone. Some reports said the drone was launched from a nearby town within government territory. Though the RSF was capable of launching drone strikes, and was blamed by some pro-SAF commentators, it denied responsibility. At the time, drone strikes were also not a common tactic for the RSF, and Atbara was said to be out of range for the kinds of drones the group had.

Independent analyst the Sudan War Monitor argued that the strike was a “false flag” attack conducted or faked for publicity by the militia itself, which also has a history of launching its own drone attacks. However, other analysts rejected this explanation, speculating instead that it might have been carried out by dissident elements of the SAF who disapproved of the army’s alliance with the militia (militias like this one, which push increased involvement of religion in Sudan's government, are generally considered to be allies of ousted Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir). 

In retrospect, it seemed plausible that the strike was indeed carried out by the RSF, as the first of what would become a surge in RSF drone attacks on cities behind enemy lines over the next two months (see April 27 entry for more).

April 4-6, 2024

The RSF reportedly killed at least 15 people in attacks on villages west of El Fasher, appearing to target civilians of the Zaghawa, a non-Arab people that the leadership of the SLM-MM and JEM also belong to. The attacks appeared to be intended as retaliation for those former rebel groups joining the fight against the RSF around Khartoum. (Though there are said to also be some Zaghawa people within the RSF.)

According to an anonymous source interviewed by Qatar-linked news outlet the Middle East Eye, not only SLM-MM but also JEM-Jibril and SLM-Tambour fighters had by this time participated in fighting alongside the SAF in Omdurman.

April 6, 2024

According to some reports, SAF forces “regained control over the neighborhoods around” their 22nd Infantry Division base in Babanusa, West Kordofan, amid clashes with the RSF (ACLED). A similar claim would again be made in June.

April 4-7, 2024

The SAF launched an offensive into Gezira state from both the east and west, fielding a large but still limited force. It claimed to have captured several villages between El Fau and Wad Medani, including two different settlements each just about 30 kilometers east of Wad Medani. Joint Force fighters (likely SLM-MM and SLM-Tambour) were reportedly involved in the fighting (ACLED). 

Forces advancing from El Managil reached the same town west of Wad Medani that they had lost a month earlier, by some accounts recapturing it, though the RSF would later claim to have pushed them back in the area. Multiple reports of fighting from later in the month would support the RSF claim that the frontline had moved back westward towards El Managil (ACLED).

Reports also said the SAF had captured a village south of Wad Medani, closer to the state border with Sennar (ACLED).

April 7, 2024

Near Agok in the Abyei Area, South Sudanese soldiers opened fire on a delegation of AAA local government officials who claimed to have been peacefully seeking a meeting with the troops, though with an armed guard (ACLED). Three people were killed, and the county commissioner for the southeastern Abyei Area was wounded. A UN report would later say the shooting was triggered by a “disagreement over the security perimeter used by the Commissioner’s security detail”. Ngok Dinka community leaders would later demand the withdrawal of South Sudanese troops from the Abyei Area, accusing the local contingent of being infiltrated by Titweng militias.

As of one week later, the UN would estimate that 139 people had been killed in clashes between Twic Dinka (e.g. Titweng) and Ngok Dinka (e.g. pro-AAA) people since early October of 2023. More than half of the deaths happened as part of a November 13 battle (covered in our previous reporting) in which Ngok Dinka fighters clashed with both Titweng and South Sudanese soldiers, who the UN said blocked its UNISFA peacekeeping forces from responding.

April 8, 2024

The RSF reportedly killed more than 100 people in attacks on villages near the South-North Kordofan state border, between Jebel Dayir and Abbasiya. The villages were described as “under the control of” SPLM-N El Hilu, though the rebel forces were reportedly not present at the time of the attacks (however, ACLED did report that three members of the rebel group had been killed during another RSF raid on the area three weeks earlier).

Elsewhere, the SAF claimed it had recaptured two villages that ACLED believed to be located south of the Sennar Sugar Factory (ACLED).

April 8-14, 2024

In South Kordofan, some reports claimed that RSF forces clashed with the SAF at a village midway between Kauda and Abbasiya (ACLED). The Ayin news service suggested that the SAF had fought RSF-allied Arab militias, while witnesses interviewed by Radio Dabanga said no armed groups were present except the SAF, and that the violence happened as part of an escalatory spiral between soldiers and private citizens. They said the violence kicked off when a group of soldiers tried to commandeer a motorcycle outside a social venue, murdering the vehicle’s owner when he refused to hand it over. Later reports would continue to describe the area as dominated by an SAF military camp (ACLED).

April 11, 2024

Two weeks after the departure of the neutral loyalist factions of the SLM-TC and GSLF, an announcement was made that the Joint Force “is not neutral and will fight” offensively against the RSF. The announcement also followed increasing threats from the RSF amid the participation of some Joint Force groups in fighting alongside the SAF in Omdurman and nearby Bahri. The shift in rhetoric appeared to signal that SLM-MM and JEM-Jibril field commanders in El Fasher would soon join in the fighting, where they had until now mostly maintained an unofficial peace with the RSF despite their leaders’ alliance with the SAF.

The same day, reports said SLM-MM fighters clashed with the RSF in an area west of Zurrug, a remote outpost in North Darfur, apparently with SAF air support (ACLED).

Meanwhile, RSF shelling of a town just east of Khartoum killed 13 people, while at least nine civilians were reportedly executed by the SAF-affiliated Military Intelligence for alleged collaboration with SPLM-N El Hilu rebels in South Kordofan (the incident was said to have taken place midway between Kadugli and Delling). Also in South Kordofan, alleged RSF fighters thought to be coming from Um Rawaba raided an area northeast of Abbasiya, near the state border with White Nile. Reports said the RSF had previously attacked the area on February 24 (ACLED).

April 12-21, 2024

The day after the announcement that Joint Force field commanders in El Fasher would confront the RSF, fighting indeed erupted between the two groups west of the city. By one day later, they were also fighting within the city, in clashes that continued through at least April 21 without more than a day or two of quiet. At least some of the clashes included SAF air support for the Joint Force (ACLED). Occasional, smaller clashes had occurred between the RSF and Joint Force fighters during the months prior to this, but not as part of a sustained pattern (ACLED). 

This outbreak of fighting appeared to mark the end of a citizen-mediated ceasefire that had limited fighting in El Fasher for almost a whole year.

April 12-13, 2024

At least two civilians were killed when SAF airstrikes hit areas around Sennar state capital Sinja (Singa), reportedly striking the area by accident based on bad data. The correct target was said to be an RSF or allied position considerably farther north, with the reported place name matching an area on the Gezira-Sennar border west of El Fau.

April 13, 2024

Clashes again erupted in El Fasher between the neutral and pro-SAF factions of the SLM-TC former rebel group, while the withdrawal of the neutral faction from the city was apparently still ongoing. The neutral forces, loyal to the group’s top leader El Hadi Idris, said their forces had been attacked by the pro-SAF faction while “on a mission” from El Fasher to the Korma area northwest of the city (not to be confused with Koma to the east). Fighters from fellow neutral group the GSLF would also reportedly be involved in clashes with the pro-SAF Joint Force as they withdrew from El Fasher the next day (ACLED).

Meanwhile, RSF attacks continued on Zaghawa people west of El Fasher, with reports saying 16 villages had been targeted. Eleven days later, the Zaghawa Native Administration (quasi-traditional community leadership) would announce that it considered its people to be at war with the RSF (ACLED). Though the attacks coincided with the outbreak of fighting between the Joint Force and the RSF, one version of the story said they had been triggered by cattle theft from Arab herders by a Zaghawa militia.

April 14, 2024

North of El Fasher, the RSF seized the strategic town of Mellit in clashes with the Joint Force, which had been using it as a headquarters. Since the RSF began blocking the main highways west and east from Darfur in 2023, Mellit had become the main entry point of goods into the populated parts of North Darfur, via unpaved routes through the desert connecting it to the Libyan border and to Al Dabbah (Ad Dabbah, Al-Dabba, El Debba) in Northern State. Various Joint Force groups (both neutral and pro-SAF) had maintained checkpoints along those two desert trade routes, and all the checkpoints along the Al Dabbah-Mellit route were now taken over by the RSF. The RSF’s control of Mellit also allowed it to allegedly block humanitarian aid headed for El Fasher from the Joint Force-controlled town of Tina on the border with Chad.

There were allegations that the neutral faction of the SLM-TC fought on the side of the RSF in the battle for Mellit (ACLED), though the SAF camp routinely labels all neutral parties as RSF sympathizers. The GSLF, another Joint Force member group whose top leader is close to the neutral SLM-TC, had reportedly fought against the RSF around Mellit earlier in the year (ACLED). 

After the RSF takeover of Mellit, Joint Force fighters remained in the areas around the town, with some RSF sources even describing it as “besieged” later in the month. Additional RSF clashes with the SAF-Joint Force coalition would be reported from the town in mid-May (ACLED). But by late May, the RSF would be said to have successfully defended the road connecting Mellit to El Fasher, while also still controlling the town.

Meanwhile, indiscriminate artillery duels between the SAF and RSF in El Fasher left nine people dead and 60 injured.

April 15, 2024

A UN report covering events in the Abyei Area up to this date would state that the SAF-affiliated Diffra Oil Police had departed the northern part of the disputed zone at the end of October - apparently leaving Abyei free of any Sudanese government armed forces, as promised in Sudan's 2011 agreement with South Sudan. Militias made up of Humr Misseriya people are present in the northern part of the Abyei Area, where members of that community operate a rival administration to the AAA, claiming to represent the whole Area. The traditional leadership of the Humr Misseriya favors the Abyei Area becoming part of Sudan, but early on declared neutrality in the SAF-RSF conflict. It remains unclear where this administration stands in relation to the divisions among the Misseriya people over whether to support the RSF.

April 18, 2024

The RSF seized an SAF garrison at the eastern foot of Jebel Dayir, after several battles between the rival forces. Though RSF forces were said to have left the base, reporting in the next few days would confirm that the SAF had withdrawn and RSF fighters were moving freely throughout the area. Both civilians and SAF forces were said to have retreated up the slope of the area’s mountain outcrop, which SPLM-N El Hilu considered part of its area of influence in the “Nuba Mountains” (a term that also includes the mountainous areas of South Kordofan).

Also around this date, the neutral loyalist faction of the SLM-TC was reported to have actually withdrawn from El Fasher and relocated to Korma and Ayn Siro villages to the northwest (ACLED).

April 21, 2024

SLM-MM forces in Ed Daein, East Darfur submitted mass resignations and declared themselves neutral (ACLED). The resignations were alleged to have been made “at gunpoint”, after the RSF began targeting the SLM-MM following the group’s declaration ten days earlier that its field commanders would fight alongside the SAF. The unit in Ed Daein had apparently managed to co-exist with the RSF authorities there under the commanders’ previous policy of unofficial neutrality.

April 22, 2024

Musa Hilal, leader of former “Janjaweed” armed group the Sudanese Awakening Revolutionary Council (SRAC), publicly declared his support for the SAF. Hilal, who is also a community leader among the same Arab kinship groups that make up the RSF’s base, had been suspected of SAF sympathies from the war’s start, but his official allegiance had remained unclear. Some dissident SRAC factions were fighting alongside the RSF instead, and relations between Hilal’s SRAC and the RSF had appeared to be warming as recently as February. One report even claimed that SRAC leadership in Misteriya had transferred some of its forces to the RSF in late February (ACLED). The next week after Hilal’s announcement of support for the SAF, there would be several reports of troop transfers in the other direction: RSF fighters in El Fasher defecting to join the SRAC (ACLED). 

Meanwhile, it was reported that the SLM-AW rebel group had deployed fighters along a roughly parallel route north of the main road from Tawila to El Fasher, within the area where the RSF had been attacking Zaghawa villages (ACLED). (The SLM-AW is largely made up of Fur people rather than Zaghawa, though it was historically unified with the Zaghawa-led SLM-MM.)

April 23, 2024

Some reports said the RSF managed to close all roads leading into El Fasher, after receiving reinforcements from other Darfur states (ACLED).

The same day, clashes reportedly erupted in Korma between the neutral loyalist faction of the SLM-TC and the group’s pro-SAF dissident faction, after a loyalist commander tried to arrest members of the dissident group. The report said some dissidents were killed and others withdrew towards Tawila (ACLED).

April 27, 2024

The SAF said it had shot down three RSF drones targeting the airport at the town of Merowe in northeastern Sudan, apparently intercepting them at a site 70 kilometers to the south. Alleged RSF drones had also been shot down in Shendi (Shandi), River Nile state earlier in the week, and similar events would be reported from Gedaref state two weeks later, as well as in Kosti a week after that (ACLED).

April 29, 2024

The RSF claimed that “thousands” of JEM fighters had joined its ranks (ACLED), apparently at a major town between Nyala and Buram. Though the figure seemed unlikely to be real, the story did suggest both that (1) the surrounding rural areas of South and East Darfur may still harbor major armed groups other than the RSF, and (2) the main route between Nyala and Buram probably did have a stable RSF presence.

Meanwhile, a resident of El Obeid in North Kordofan said the city was currently surrounded by the RSF “in the north, south, and west”. Over the past year, the RSF had sometimes entered the city during battles with the SAF, but “ only occasionally”, with control of the city’s outskirts and entrances varying depending on the outcome of the most recent major battles.

April 30, 2024

RSF forces were reported to be gathering in large numbers at a village about 35 kilometers south of El Giteina in White Nile state, after reports of RSF activity even further south two weeks earlier (ACLED). Clashes would again be reported from further south three weeks later.

April 27-May 6, 2024

Artillery duels and aerial bombing took place for nine days in Babanusa in clashes between the RSF and the SAF, with the SAF besieged in its base on the western side of the town and relying on airdrops for supplies. The RSF also threatened to take over state capital El Fula (Al-Fulah), which was under SAF-affiliated government control, but much more lightly defended than Babanusa. Reporting from the next round of clashes in late May described the fighting as happening in the northern and eastern parts of the town.

May 6, 2024

In North Kordofan, reports said the SAF retook control of the base next to Jebel Dayir that it had lost to the RSF on April 18. The RSF would still be present in the area around Jebel Dayir more than a month later.

May 7, 2024

An SAF offensive, with the apparent goal of reopening the El Obeid-Kosti road, was launched simultaneously from both the west (El Obeid) and the east (White Nile state). Despite early claims of victories, the effort was eventually turned back by the RSF, with hundreds of SAF soldiers killed (and likely many RSF fighters too). Though as of two days later, it would still be unclear whether the SAF had recaptured a strategic point about 20 kilometers southwest of the El Obeid city center, and on May 10 it would be reported that fighting was still ongoing there (ACLED).

May 10-19, 2024

New clashes broke out in El Fasher between the Joint Force and RSF. At some point over the next two days, the fighting came to also directly involve the SAF, and was still continuing a week later. The fighting took place mostly in the eastern part of the city.

May 11, 2024

A gathering of pro-SAF members of the GSLF in Port Sudan, headquarters of the SAF-led government, declared that the leader of their faction was the rightful head of the whole former rebel group (ACLED). Others within the group said proper procedures had not been followed, and the leadership change was invalid. Until now, the GSLF’s two factions had apparently disagreed only on an informal basis over whether the group would side against the RSF or remain strictly neutral, with its Darfur-based top leader insisting on neutrality alongside the similarly loyalist neutral faction of the SLM-TC.

May 12, 2024

SAF airstrikes targeted RSF positions in Koma (Kuma), east of El Fasher (ACLED) - just one of many cases of SAF strikes across North Darfur, but notable as evidence that the town was indeed under RSF control, after ambiguous reports from most of 2023. A well-known Darfur expert also noted by email that he believed Koma to be under RSF control as of January 2024, and ACLED recorded reports of an RSF force entering the town on December 4, 2023.

May 15, 2024

ACLED recorded reports that the SLM-AW closed the Nyala-Zalingei road, apparently in the area nearest to Torontonga (Toratonga, Turantonga, Torong Tonga), after clashing with unidentified militias that had been charging tolls along the road there. Two weeks later, reports would say there were tensions between the SLM-AW and the RSF in the area.

May 12-16, 2024

RSF forces intervened and mediated to end a deadly feud between two rival kinship-based militias in the area straddling the Central-South Darfur border northwest of Rahad El Berdi (ACLED), providing new evidence that RSF presence extended farther into this area from both the Central Darfur and the South Darfur side. Related actions also took place northeast of Rahad El Berdi.

May 17, 2024

Sudan War Monitor reported that the RSF had agreed with local leaders to pull its forces out of a town in West Kordofan, midway between Wad Banda and Ed Daein, after being involved in a series of violent events there. The SAF was not present in the area either, and the RSF presumably could still move freely around the countryside.

By this point, ACLED said it estimated a total of more than 16,650 fatalities since the start of Sudan’s conflict, based on aggregation of numbers from news reports and other sources. The United Nations also estimated the death toll in the war at more than 15,000.

May 18, 2024

SAF and RSF forces clashed around the border of Khartoum and River Nile states, east of the Nile river. The fighting apparently started inside Khartoum state, northeast of Bahri, and extended somewhat into River Nile state as the RSF pushed the SAF back. The RSF controls a major oil refinery east of the river, midway between Bahri and the state border.

Meeting in Kenya, the leaders of Sudan’s two “holdout” rebel groups, SPLM-N El Hilu and the SLM-AW, each signed copies of a joint declaration with former Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok agreeing that the future Sudan should have separation between religion and government. Notably, they also concurred that if the Sudanese government didn’t agree to this, their people should have the “right to self-determination” - implying that the SLM-AW Darfur or (more likely) SPLM-N EL Hilu’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile could secede from Sudan. Though Hamdok was at this time the leader of the neutral, pro-democracy Tagaddum political coalition, the SLM-AW said it was only dealing with him individually as the country’s most prominent civilian politician.

Meanwhile, reports implied that SLM-MM forces were present in Shendi, River Nile state (ACLED).

May 19, 2024

The RSF announced that it had “established control” over the Um Rawaba area in North Kordofan - apparently after an extended period of chaos since the SAF offensive of May 7, when the government forces had either reached or nearly reached Um Rawaba town from their base just inside White Nile state. RSF forces were apparently based outside the town, at least previously, which might help explain frequently ambiguous reporting on whether they occupied the town itself. However, from mid-May it became clearer that they indeed exercised control over the town itself, influencing trade and imposing curfews there (ACLED).

May 20-26, 2024

The SAF bombed the power plant in the eastern part of El Fasher after losing it to the RSF, while fighting broke out in the northwestern part of the city too, in and around a major camp for people displaced by the previous Darfur war of the 2000s. Some reports said the RSF overran the camp before it was recaptured by the Joint Force (ACLED). Clashes continued “across northern and southeastern neighbourhoods” for several days. A report from the Qatar-affiliated Middle East Monitor painted a picture of a population largely opposed to the RSF, with many local men allegedly taking up arms to join the SAF and Joint Forces in its defense.

May 27, 2024

The RSF appeared to capture a reservoir 10 kilometers west of El Fasher’s city center, though a later report said it was retaken by the SAF.

May 29, 2024

The ousted governor of North Darfur, acting in his capacity as an official of the SLM-TC, announced the formal establishment of a new “Neutral Joint Force”, which had reportedly been in the making for months. Notably, the newly formed organization was said not only to include the neutral factions of the SLM-TC and the GSLF, but also JEM-Sandal and a neutral faction of the Sudanese Alliance. JEM-Sandal was said to have forces in Tina and somewhere roughly northwest of Zurrug, while the neutral GSLF said it had fighters stationed just south and southeast of El Fasher.

Meanwhile, the SAF said it had captured a police station along the frontline within the city of Omdurman, as well as a small area further south.

May 31, 2024

The SAF advanced from west to east across a bridge connecting Omdurman and Bahri. Some reports said it entered the latter city and took some ground before withdrawing back to the western side of the bridge. However, Sudan War Monitor, based on available imagery and other evidence, concluded that the SAF most likely hadn’t even reached the eastern end of the bridge.

June 1-2, 2024

Fighting resumed in El Fasher after a period of relative calm, with the RSF claiming to have captured the Al-Wahda neighborhood in the city’s south, while the Joint Force said it had repelled the attack with help from the SAF and Popular Resistance fighters. At least 11 civilians were killed amid the clashes. The newest wave of clashes took place largely in western and southeastern parts of the city. The following day, another 12 people were reported killed in RSF shelling within the city, as public services and commerce collapsed and much of the population attempted to flee.

During the same period, battles also reportedly occurred in the Zurrug area of North Darfur and another area that, according to historical maps, seems to be north of Ayn Siro and southwest of Zurrug.

June 3, 2024

RSF forces, apparently coming from Abu Zabad, overran a small SAF garrison east of Lagawa in West Kordofan state, with the SAF forces reportedly withdrawing southeast to a village just inside South Kordofan, along the main road to Delling.

June 5, 2024

The RSF committed a massacre of civilians at a town in the west of Gezira state, killing at least 50 to 100 people, possibly in revenge for some act of resistance by the townspeople. The area, located just across the border from White Nile state south of El Giteina, lay within a zone where neither SAF nor RSF forces were known to be regularly present. Another report put the death toll at around 200, and said the RSF claimed the town had been harboring SAF-affiliated militias, who it claimed had planned to attack its forces south of Khartoum.

June 9, 2024

The SAF said it had been able to "break the siege" of its base in Babanusa, taking back several neighborhoods of the town. It had made a similar claim in April, and it was unclear whether this new announcement referred to further gains.

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Graphic of the Sudanese flag (source) is in the public domain. Timeline compiled with help from the ACLED database: Raleigh, Clionadh, Andrew Linke, Håvard Hegre and Joakim Karlsen. (2010). “Introducing ACLED - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data.” Journal of Peace Research 47(5) 651-660. https://www.acleddata.com/