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Burma coup resistance notes July 22, 2023
Kachin counter-attack; Chin suffer a defeat in Htantalan; Karen army & central PDFs attack on multiple fronts; civilian massacre in Sagaing.
The junta presses its large-scale assault on the Kachin capital Laiza, but the Kachin army hits back in various other spots.
In northern Shan State, the Kachin army (KIA) stormed a junta camp of about 100 troops on the Lashio-Kutkai road after an hour-long battle on July 18, then withdrew before air strikes came. Junta troops shelled nearby villages, killing and wounding civilians. Two days earlier the Kachin had intercepted a junta convoy in that area. (Myanmar Now 7/19)
Junta columns heading toward Kachin State through Shan State also infringed on Ta’ang ethnic territory, leading to 3 clashes with the Ta’ang army (TNLA) on July 17. The Ta’ang attacked a column and a 7-vehicle convoy. The Kokang army also confronted junta troops moving through Lashio Township on July 18, killing or wounding at least 5. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 7/20)
In the ongoing battle of Namsanyang near Laiza, the junta fired 120mm mortar shells toward Laiza on July 14, and at least one of the shells fell over the border in China; some reports say three. (People's Spring 7/15) On July 21 jets bombed Namsanyang, but only blew up the junta’s own offices there and killed some cows. The junta’s offensive is stalling and the Kachin are counter-attacking. (People's Spring 7/22) The junta has now evacuated military families and police from Waingmaw Township, where the large battle is taking place, to the relative safety of Bhamo town. Tens of thousands of civilians have also fled the area. (People's Spring 7/17)
On July 20 Kachin forces intercepted a junta convoy coming from Bhamo at the Lajayang River crossing, inflicting an unknown number of casualties. (People's Spring 7/21)
The same day, a junta column left Shweku town in southwestern Kachin State and was ambushed by a Kachin PDF, resulting in 10 troops killed and 15 wounded. They were returned to Shweku town. (Khit Thit Media 7/21) The next day, July 21, Kachin forces attacked a junta position guarding a bridge in Hpakant Township, killing 5 and wounding others. (Chindwin News Agency 7/21)
Karen army Brigade 3 reports a large battle in Saw Ti Township (Shwejin on Burmese maps) on July 21. Karen army and allied PDFs got advance notice of a junta column of 80 troops entering Saluchaung village, and staged an ambush there that lasted for 3 hours. Because the villagers would be in danger, the Karen forces fought head-on without withdrawing, and killed at least 30 of the junta troops and wounded 11 more. Eventually the junta troops retreated and a jet from Taungoo air base bombed the area. Three Karen soldiers were wounded. (Khit Thit Media 7/21)
The Karen army assault on junta forces occupying Notakaw town (Kyainseikji) in Dooplaya District continues. After the Karen destroyed the junta’s electric power supply last week battles have been ongoing, with 5 junta troops killed and 10 wounded, and 5 Karen soldiers wounded. Junta troops shot and killed 2 civilians crossing through the battle zone, and kidnapped 17 injured people from a bus to use as human shields. (Mizzima 7/17) The Karen have been attacking junta positions in Notakaw such as the police barracks, army camp, and admin offices almost daily, using mortars, drone bombs, and gunfire. (People's Spring 7/18)
In the Myawaddy border town, junta forces have been firing mortars and sending troops to try to retake the lost BGF camp at Letpatdaung, about 5 km southwest of the city. On July 18 a junta captain and some other troops were killed and their weapons captured by the Karen Cobra Column. (Khit Thit Media 7/18) Then on July 20 Karen forces drove the last junta troops out of their mountain position and captured their weapons. When the Karen killed two commanders, the remaining troops fled. (People's Spring 7/21) The constant shooting in Myawaddy town prompted Thailand authorities to beef up security in and around Mae Sot town, which faces Myawaddy across the Thu Mwe River, which is the border. (Mizzima 7/20)
Also in Dooplaya District, that Karen forces attacked a convoy of 115 junta troops traveling from the Kwi La Dter border post toward Notakaw town continually from July 11 to July 14, and about 50 troops were killed including officers, and 12 were wounded. When the convoy finally reached Notakaw, it numbered 60 troops. (People's Spring 7/18)
Karen joint forces attacked junta positions in Kaw T’Ree town (Kawkareik) on July 19, killing 8 troops; 3 members of the Karen White Tiger column were wounded. The junta sent aircraft and fired mortars. (Than Lwin Khet News 7/20)
On June 16 a boat carrying troops capsized and sank in the mouth of the Tavoy River between Launglone and the mainland; approximately 30 troops are presumed drowned, though not all of the bodies were found. A number of large weapons were also on board the boat that sank. Junta troops have been sent into Launglone Township of Beit-Tavoy District by road and by sea to try to quell the active resistance movement there. Launglone is a peninsula that begins just west of Tavoy town (Dawei). That same night, PDF forces in Tavoy town fired 81mm mortars, hitting the junta governor’s residence, the border affairs office, and a guard post at the bridge connecting Tavoy town to Launglone Township. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 7/17, 7/18)
In Yephyu Township of Beit-Tavoy, a column of 200 junta troops marched into Alay Sakan village on July 18 and was confronted by Karen army 27th Battalion and local PDFs. During the 4 hour battle, the PDFs say 35 junta troops were killed and 15 wounded, along with a Karen soldier killed and another wounded. The junta fired mortars for 3 days afterward. (Tanintharyi Times 7/21)
Further south in Beit-Tavoy District, daily battles have taken place in Tenasserim Township along the Tenasserim-Mawtaung road, sparked by the entry of junta troops into the area on July 15. An early estimate puts junta fatalities at 10. The troops fired mortars into nearby villages, causing residents to flee. Troops then looted their homes, also torching the huts of the rubber farm workers. (Tanintharyi Times 7/18)
Meanwhile, the battle at Yado in the far north of Kawthoolei that began last week is still ongoing, with joint Karen and Karenni forces attacking a junta camp in that town in Taw Oo District.
The breakaway militia calling itself “Kawthoolei Army” or “KTLA” murdered a Karen army Brigade 4 commander and another Karen soldier in Beit-Tavoy District on July 19. It wounded five others. (People's Spring 7/20) The rogue “KTLA” has caused internal fighting among the Karen on several occasions.
The junta is airlifting in more troops from Shan State to Bawlakhe and other points in southern Karenni State. As fighting continues in Mese, Bawlakhe, Demawso, and Pekhon Townships, junta jets systematically identify and bomb the CDM hospitals that provide emergency care to wounded Karenni soldiers and regular medical services to civilian refugees. The bombing has forced doctors to move from buildings into the jungle, where the range of care is reduced. It is rainy season and the jungle is a muddy, malarial, constantly wet place. Attacking hospitals and clinics is an international war crime, a specialty of the illegal Naypyitaw regime. (Mizzima 7/18)
The junta is holding the entire town of Bawlakhe hostage since June 27. Residents are restricted form entering or leaving, which prevents them going about their livelihoods and procuring supplies, leading to a food shortage. Troops have murdered six civilians so far, and most residents are sheltering in a Buddhist monastery. The town has about 1,500 residents. (The Irrawaddy 7/19)
Chin defense forces suffered a bitter defeat when 150 junta troops finally managed to batter their way through from Hakha and capture the Chin base in Htantalan town, which the Chin had controlled since February 9. At least 14 Chin soldiers were killed. (Myanmar Now 7/21) Though the shrunken junta army is losing control of many areas, this event shows that it can still concentrate its remaining troops and, with great persistence and sacrifice, score important victories, even if only temporarily.
Elsewhere, Chin forces went on the attack against junta troops in Kanpetlet Township for four days July 16-19, during which they killed a total of 19 troops including an officer. Three Chin soldiers were wounded, one seriously. Jets then came and bombed villages, destroying seven civilian houses and a church. The Kanpetlet Chin forces say they have run out of food and ammunition and need donations. (Khit Thit Media 7/19)
The Arakan Army, which opted out of the Spring Revolution in November 2022, instead of fighting the junta, attacked the tiny Rohingya militia ARSA on July 18-19, inflicting casualties. (People's Spring 7/20)
People’s Defense Forces (PDFs)-----------------
PDFs in Magway Region fired five shock missiles at the junta air base in Magway city in the early hours of July 17. One of the five missed, but the others struck the runway, the maintenance hangar, and the guard house, causing explosions and killing some soldiers. Helicopters at the base were scrambled into the air. (Myaelatt Athan 7/17) Resistance forces have been working to reduce the junta’s capacity to carry out jet and helicopter bombing, mostly of civilians.
Similarly, a PDF from Yinmapin Township fired two shock missiles and locally-manufactured mortars at a junta weapons factory in Myaing Township on July 19, hitting a dormitory and dining area; casualties aren’t known. (Khit Thit Media 7/21)
On July 16 a junta convoy left Laungshey going toward Jindwe in Saw Township of Magway Region, close to the Chin State border. For 4 days it was hit by roadside bombs and rockets of a joint force of Magway PDFs and Chin defenses, killing 18 troops. Two jets came and dropped bombs. (People’s Spring 7/20)
In Yesagyo Township, also in Magway Region, a PDF attacked a small junta camp at Hintha village with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire for 45 minutes on July 19. A grenade hit the officers’ quarters and killed two of them, and 9 other troops were killed and others wounded. The attack had to be discontinued when the grenade launcher malfunctioned. A watermelon source said the junta will retreat from Hintha as it has become too dangerous. (Khit Thit Media 7/20)
Wounded junta troops have been pouring into the Magway military hospital daily since July 16, arriving by ambulance and airlifted by helicopter from fighting in Yaw, Pakokku, and Pauk Townships of Magway Region. Corpses also arrived. (Myaelatt Athan 7/20)
PDFs twice attacked a column of 130 junta troops that was leaving a police barracks in Tantse town in Sagaing Region the morning of July 17. After the two battles, the column retreated toward the town with 72 troops carrying 9 wounded. The PDFs say over 30 junta troops were killed and the survivors burned their bodies at the entrance to the town. (Khit Thit Media 7/18)
A PDF in Sagaing Region seized a motorboat on the Chindwin River that was carrying food supplies for a Pyu Saw Htee terrorist camp on July 15. The PDF distributed the food to war refugees and warned the private boat operator against future junta collaboration. (Khit Thit Media 7/15)
Activists in Monyo Township of Bago Region hung an anti-dictatorship banner on July 19. When junta troops came to remove it, an explosion killed two of them.
Scorched earth village terrorist attacks-------------------
Junta troops attacked Sonchaung village in Yinmapin Township of Sagaing Region on July 21 and massacred at least 14 people. Six of them were PDF soldiers trying to protect the village, the other 8 were civilians, including tenth-grade youths. The PDF leader was among the dead. The troops kidnapped 30 people, out of which the 14 bodies were found beheaded and dumped by a road. The other 16 are still missing. (Myaelatt Athan 7/21)
An internal leak revealed that seven of the most senior junta commanders in the northern region were arrested on July 13 on suspicion of collaboration with the Kachin army (KIA). They include the commander of the northern military district, Gen. Koko Maung and his closest subordinates. They were taken to Naypyitaw for questioning. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 7/15) It was subsequently revealed that their wives were arrested too, and that it might have to do with improper corruption, as opposed to the crony corruption that the Naypyitaw regime specializes in. (Than Lwin Times 7/21)
As a measure of the junta’s manpower shortage, it has pulled out soldiers from Pathein Township in Irrawaddy Region to help defend the military capital Naypyitaw. In Pathein, troops have been replaced by elderly veterans forcibly recalled from retirement. Witnesses say some appear not fit enough to join the militia. (Ayeyarwaddy Times 7/17)
Junta personnel were shooting each other again, this time in Yangon’s North Okalappa Township police barracks. (Khit Thit Media 7/19)
Political and economic-------------------
The National Unity Government and three ethnic homeland governments together requested $525 million in non-military aid from the USA government according to America’s 2022 Burma Act, which designates funding for Burma’s democracy movement. The NUG wants funds for drones, vehicles, communication equipment, and medical supplies, civilian administration in liberated areas, and humanitarian assistance for war refugees. (DVB English 7/18)
The USA embassy in Yangon has a new chief, chargé d’affaires Susan Stevenson (America has withdrawn its ambassador after the illegal seizure of power by the junta.) Her first act was to release a video statement affirming America’s support for the democratic resistance movement and opposition to the illegitimate Naypyitaw regime. (DVB 7/18) The NUG’s most committed foreign ally, the USA is still unwilling to provide even a small amount of military assistance to help end the war and stop the junta’s genocide of its own people, in sharp contrast to its copious military aid to Ukraine.
An international fundraising campaign that just ended netted nearly US$2 million, which will be used to strengthen the resistance forces. (NUG Ministry of Defense 7/19)
The NUG’s Interim Central Bank announced the formation of the Spring Development Bank, dedicated to economic development in the growing liberated portion of Burma, and offering citizens at home and abroad an alternative to the traditional junta-controlled banks. By accepting money transfers from abroad, the SDB can keep hard currencies out of the junta’s reach. It can also transact in the crypto-currency USDT, and can be used to buy gold as a hedge against the collapse of the kyat currency. 49% of the bank’s initial capitalization will be sold to the public as shares. (Mizzima 7/19)
The NUG Interim Central Bank is lobbying three Singapore banks not to release US$4.2 billion in Myanmar’s treasury reserves to the illegal military regime. (People's Spring 7/20)
Kyaukphyu port on the Arakan coast is a key part of China’s Belt and Road investments in Burma, on the Indian Ocean at the end of a fuel pipeline and railway leading to China’s Yunan Province next to Kachin State. Now 3 out of 4 Chinese-built and operated power plants at Kyaukpyu have ceased operations, and two have been dismantled and removed since the coup. The Chinese companies are unable to import enough liquefied natural gas to run the plants, due to the civil war and the junta’s banking restrictions and lack of access to foreign currency. Kyaukpyu now has one remaining power plant and receives electricity for 4 or 5 hours per day, like much of the rest of the country. (The Irrawaddy 7/20)
Myinchan University Student Union Vice President Ko Zin Win Htwe was beaten to death in prison on June 27. The junta just informed his family. (Student Union 7/19)