The ceasefire, agreed upon by the warring factions on Saturday after five weeks of intense battles between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, was intended to facilitate the delivery of much-needed aid. However, it marks yet another unsuccessful attempt at a ceasefire since the conflict erupted on April 15, with both sides accusing each other of violating previous agreements.
According to a joint statement by Saudi Arabia and the United States, the latest truce has the potential to be extended with the agreement of both parties. The Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces expressed their commitment to honoring the ceasefire. The Saudi Foreign Ministry acknowledged the numerous broken ceasefires in Sudan, but highlighted that the agreement reached in Jeddah was signed by all parties involved and would be supported by a US-Saudi-backed international monitoring mechanism.
In the hours leading up to the ceasefire’s implementation, the army conducted intense airstrikes across Khartoum. Reports indicated the use of artillery, rocket launchers, and heavy machineguns in the fighting, not only in Khartoum but also in Omdurman and Bahri, which are located across the Nile River. Army aircraft also targeted positions held by the Rapid Support Forces.
Witnesses reported that the fighting commenced during the morning, subsided temporarily, and then resumed in the afternoon and shortly before sunset. Army Chief General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and General Mohamed Dagalo of the Rapid Support Forces appear determined to achieve an outright victory in the conflict. However, analysts view this as unlikely due to the nature of urban warfare that has persisted for six weeks.
Volker Perthes, the UN envoy to Sudan, expressed concern about the escalating “ethnicisation” of the conflict and its potential spillover effects on neighboring countries. Perthes warned that the growing ethnic tensions could lead to a protracted conflict with significant regional implications. Clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have already escalated into ethnic violence in West Darfur, with tribal militias joining the fray and civilians taking up arms to defend themselves.
Darfur, historically plagued by conflict, has witnessed intense fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces in recent weeks. The region, previously devastated by civil war in the 2000s, saw the Janjaweed militia, the precursor to the Rapid Support Forces, fighting alongside the government against ethnic African rebels. The Janjaweed, primarily composed of local Arab tribes, consider themselves victims of perceived discrimination by the political and military elite in Khartoum.
The ongoing conflict has claimed the lives of at least 1,000 people and displaced over one million, both internally and into neighboring countries such as Egypt, Chad, and South Sudan. Millions of people in Khartoum are trapped without access to essential resources like water, electricity, and medicine, as most healthcare centers have closed. Large parts of the city have been deserted, with residents either leaving or seeking shelter in their homes. The crisis has led to widespread looting, targeting homes, banks, relief aid warehouses, stores, and factories, either by criminal gangs or possibly by Rapid Support Forces fighters left without supplies or bases.
Many Rapid Support Forces fighters have sought refuge in densely populated neighborhoods, using residents as human shields. With banks closed, warehouses and factories looted or destroyed