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The United States has announced new sanctions against two commanders of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), intensifying efforts to address the escalating violence in North Darfur. 

The sanctions target Ali Yagoub Gibril, the RSF’s Central Darfur commander, and Osman Mohamed Hamid Mohamed, a major general in charge of the group’s operational planning. Treasury official Brian Nelson stated, “While the Sudanese people continue to demand an end to this conflict, these commanders have been focused on expanding to new fronts and battling for control of more territory. The United States will continue to use sanctions to support the peace process and act against those on either side who further perpetuate the conflict.” The newly imposed US sanctions freeze any stateside assets of the targeted commanders and block all transactions with them by US citizens or entities.

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This development comes after the RSF recently encircled el-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, leading to a spike in hostilities with the Sudanese Armed Forces. This escalation has placed over 800,000 civilians at risk, according to a UN spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The spokesperson voiced deep concerns about the “use of heavy weaponry in densely populated areas, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties, significant displacement, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.” Guterres has also continued to warn about the ongoing severe humanitarian situation, including the looming threat of famine exacerbated by over a year of war.

Since the onset of the conflict in mid-April 2023, the UN estimates that at least 15,500 people have been killed and over 8.8 million displaced. Accusations of war crimes have been directed at both the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces, implicating them in the killings of civilians through deliberate and indiscriminate attacks. Notably, the RSF has been spotlighted by Human Rights Watch for alleged massacres in West Darfur, particularly affecting communities in el-Geneina.

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The battle for el-Fasher is not just a military conflict but also a contest for historical and ethnic influence, as the RSF evolved from the Janjaweed militias known for their brutal campaigns against non-Arab groups in Darfur. The current conflict has forced many neutral Darfuri groups to choose sides, increasingly aligning with the Sudanese Armed Forces against the RSF due to its notorious past and ongoing hostilities towards non-Arab groups.

More warnings:
Doctors Without Borders reported receiving 454 casualties at a supported hospital in el-Fasher since May 10, with 56 ultimately dying. The organization’s deputy medical coordinator in el-Fasher, Dr. Prince Djuma Safari, stated, “The wounded and death toll are likely far higher, since the fighting continues to be so intense that many people cannot reach the hospital.” He added that North Darfur, once a relative safe place from the war, now faces threats from snipers and heavy shelling, making no place in the city safe.


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