12/01/2023, 19.15
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Myanmar’s military admits rebel advance while making a show of force in Yangon

General Min Aung Hlaing blames unnamed “foreign experts" for the rebels' advance in Shan State. Entire army battalions are reportedly surrendering, but in Yangon, the junta continues its crackdown. Some 600 organisations call on ASEAN to drop the inclusive dialogue and demand the military be brought to justice for their crimes.

Milan (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar’s military is intensifying its crackdown in Yangon, with new arrests among the civilian population while facing major difficulties vis-à-vis rebel forces that launched an offensive a month ago in the east of the country.

Citing local sources, news service Myanmar Now is reporting armoured vehicles and fully armed troops moving through the streets of the former capital, which is increasingly looking like the only bastion the junta can fully control.

A few days ago, General Min Aung Hlaing, the regime's strongman, acknowledged the losses inflicted on regular troops by the alliance of ethnic militias, especially in Shan State.

During a meeting in the capital Naypyidaw, he admitted that regular forces had "abandoned some posts" due to Operation 1027 launched by the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Arakan Army (AA), and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

The rebels claim to have captured more than 170 military outposts since their offensive began. The tragic fate of the cathedral of Loikaw, in Kayah State, is part of this story.

As reported a few days ago, after allowing civilians fleeing the fighting to shelter in the place of worship, the bishop and some priests were themselves forced to abandon the site when regular troops occupied it for their own protection.

In a broadcast by state broadcaster MRTV, General Min attributed the offensive’s success to the use of "military-grade drones" that bomb targets from above and the presence of unspecified "foreign experts" helping the rebels in their campaign.

Conversely, reports from the battlefields suggest that entire battalions of Myanmar’s army are surrendering, hence the military’s retrenching around Yangon. For their part, much of the opposition is hoping that the junta's days are numbered.

More than 600 Myanmar, regional and international organisations today issued a statement directed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), calling on the regional grouping to end to its support for an inclusive national dialogue in Myanmar and to take steps to ensure that the coup generals are brought to justice.

“ASEAN,” the appeal reads, “must take concrete actions to fulfil the demands made by the people of Myanmar to establish a federal democratic union and bring the illegal military junta and Min Aung Hlaing to justice for committing mass atrocity crimes.”

Photo from Myanmar Now

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