Military launches airstrikes in effort to extract troops

Myanmar’s military launched multiple airstrikes in the western part of Sagaing Region’s Pale Township on Thursday, two days after carrying out a large-scale attack on a resistance-held village in the same area.

Locals told Myanmar Now that the latest assault, which began at 9am and continued into the afternoon, was centred on the villages of Nwe Inn and Aing Ma, both located near the Hpalanpin Dam.

“I lost count of the number of aircraft they used, as they were flying in and out of the area all morning,” said one local resident who did not want to be identified.

He added that helicopters were used both to carry out attacks and to transport troops.

On Tuesday, the military raided the village of Hpalanpin, where resistance forces were holding 26 prisoners, including junta soldiers and police and their families.

Around 80 troops were involved in that attack, which also targeted the neighbouring village of Thae Pyin Kyel, according to Zaw Htet, the leader of the anti-regime Pale Township People’s Administration Team.

The latest assault was likely carried out to enable junta forces involved in Tuesday’s offensive to withdraw from the area, Zaw Htet told Myanmar Now on Thursday.

“We’ve had three clashes already today, and there are reports that a fighter jet is on its way. It appears they are trying to help the troops that raided our office get out,” he said. “That’s why we’re fighting them with all we’ve got right now.”

He added that the junta was also sending reinforcements into the area, because the aerial attacks have so far been unsuccessful in extracting the soldiers already on the ground.

He explained that the local terrain made it difficult for the regime forces to escape.

“Pale Township has both hills and valleys, but the recent battles have been in hilly areas. That’s why we’ve been able to block them from every direction as they try to leave the villages they’re in now,” he said.

A member of a local defence team confirmed that the airstrikes on Thursday were aimed at clearing a path for the soldiers to leave the area.

“The places they hit today were just a few miles from Hpalanpin, which means that they’re trying to open a way for the column that raided Hpalanpin to get out by coming in this direction,” he said.

According to the Pale Township People’s Administration Team, two resistance fighters were injured in Thursday’s airstrikes.

Hundreds of villagers were also displaced by the attacks, the group said.

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