Sudan army head calls on young men to join fight against paramilitary RSF


(Reuters) -The head of Sudan’s army called on young men to defend their country, including by joining the army, and announced a ceasefire for the Eid al Adha holiday on Wednesday, when a rival force has also declared a truce.

Multiple ceasefire deals have failed to stick in the conflict between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that began April 15, including several brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States at talks in Jeddah that were suspended last week.

“We ask all of the country’s youth and all those who can defend not to hesitate or delay in playing this national role in their place of residence or by joining the armed forces,” army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in a speech late on Tuesday.

The RSF late on Monday declared a ceasefire for Tuesday and Wednesday. Both sides said their ceasefires were “unilateral.”

Artillery fire, air strikes and clashes could be heard on Tuesday in parts of Sudan’s capital, residents said.

The war has brought widespread destruction and looting to Khartoum and has triggered unrest in other parts of Sudan, especially in the western region of Darfur where attacks and ethnic violence spread.

Almost 2.8 million people have been uprooted by the fighting, with more than 2.15 million internally displaced and nearly 650,000 fleeing into neighbouring countries, according to estimates from the International Organization for Migration published on Tuesday.

The U.N. refugee agency said that it expects the conflict to turn more than 1 million people into refugees within the next six months.

Residents say those fleeing attacks by Arab militias and the RSF in the Darfur city of El Geneina have been killed or shot at as they try to reach Chad by foot.

Burhan, who is also the head of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, blamed the RSF for what he called “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in the city.

In an audio message on Monday, RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, said the RSF would establish a special committee to investigate alleged violations by his troops, which would be treated “with severity and seriousness”.

A senior U.N. refugee agency official said on Tuesday that many women and children had been arriving in Chad with injuries.

The RSF accuses the army of fomenting violence in the area.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, Nafisa Eltahir, and Yomna Ehab; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Conor Humphries and Cynthia Osterman)

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