Myanmar battlefield updates: November 15

Myanmar Now consolidates local reports on clashes between the junta and resistance forces nationwide: CNA captures Rihkhawdar in Chin State, fighting on Mon-Karen border continues, AA captures two border guard stations in Rakhine State, and airstrikes kill nearly 20 in Sagaing Region

Chin State

The Chin National Front/Army (CNF/A) said on Tuesday that it had taken control of Rihkhawdar in Chin State after raiding and capturing three junta outposts: two near the town and one near the Tiau River, which forms part of the border between Myanmar and India.

CNA spokesperson Salai Htet Ni described Rihkhawdar as a hub for trade with India and noted that it is close to the outposts of local Chin resistance groups, including the CNA.

He said that there were casualties on both sides during the one-day battle for Rihkhawdar and that seven junta troops surrendered to the ethnic armed organisation, including a major. 

Thirty-nine others crossed the Tiau River and fled to India, turning themselves over to the Mizoram police before being handed over to the military in Assam on the orders of the Indian home affairs ministry, according to a local police officer.

Indian news outlets reported that the soldiers were flown to Moreh in Manipur State before being sent back to Myanmar. 

Rihkhawdar is around 70 miles from Falam and 20 miles from Tedim, both in Chin State. Roads from the two towns that could have been used to send military reinforcements to Rihkhawdar were blocked by resistance forces and will be reopened once the situation has stabilised, said a spokesperson for the Chinland Defence Force, which was also involved in the battles. 

The CNA’s Salai Htet Ni said that the fight for Rihkhawdar was connected to other resistance operations taking place nationwide at the time of reporting. 

This is the second town on the Indian border to fall to anti-regime forces, following the capture last week of Khampat, a town in Sagaing Region’s Tamu Township. 

Many of Rihkhawdar’s residents reported fleeing into Mizoram on Sunday, fearing intensified fighting. Indian media reported that more than 2,000 people from Chin State had made the crossing this week, with at least 17 people hospitalised for injuries endured along the way. 

On Monday, two displaced persons were injured, one fatally, on the Indian side of the border after being hit by artillery shrapnel, according to local groups providing humanitarian assistance.

Mon State

Some 23 junta soldiers from Light Infantry Division 22 surrendered  in Chaung Hnit Khwa village on November 13 (NUG Ministry of Defence)

Fighting continued between the Myanmar army and joint resistance forces under the Karen National Union (KNU) and the National Unity Government (NUG) on the Mon-Karen State border on Tuesday, according to local sources. 

The battles took place near Chaung Hnit Khwa village in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township, with a KNU officer stating that they had captured a junta outpost at a bridge over the Ataran River near the community. The Chaung Hnit Khwa police station was slated as the next target.  

Clashes have been ongoing in the area since November 10, with the military deploying airstrikes to defend the police station. 

On Monday, resistance forces intercepted a column of junta reinforcements from Light Infantry Division 22 sent to defend Chaung Hnit Khwa. 

According to the NUG’s Ministry of Defence, 14 soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, were killed in the ambush, and 23 surrendered.

Five more regime troops were captured during the recent clashes in the village, and eight had gone missing, the NUG said.

Rakhine State

 Junta soldiers detained after a battle with the Arakan Army on the Yangon-Sittwe road near Hpar Pyo village in Minbya Township, Rakhine State, on November 13 (AA Info Desk)

The Arakan Army (AA) overran two junta border police stations in Rathedaung Township, Rakhine State, this week and engaged in multiple clashes in neighbouring townships, capturing several junta personnel, including officers, and causing multiple casualties.

The Done Paik police post, in the village by the same name, was seized on Monday, and the Chein Khar Li station, three miles to the north, was taken over on Tuesday morning. 

Fighting also broke out between the two armies on the Yangon-Sittwe highway near the villages of Hpar Pyo and Pan Myaung in Minbya Township on Monday. The military has set up blocks on the vital transport route and on connecting roads.

In those battles, the AA reportedly killed 10 soldiers and took 10 junta personnel prisoner, including Maj Thant Zin Tun, the deputy commander of Light Infantry Battalion 344, and platoon commander Cpt Phyo Zeyar Hlaing. 

In another clash between the AA and Infantry Battalion 232 in Maungdaw Township’s Thin Baw Hla village on Monday morning, the AA claimed to have seized weapons, ammunition and other military equipment. During the battle, six AA soldiers were killed as well as 14 junta soldiers, including deputy column commander Kyaw Thet Naing, according to an AA statement. 

Intense fighting has also been taking place with the AA in Chin State’s Paletwa Township, across the border from Rakhine State. The junta deployed airstrikes as battles lasted into the early morning hours on Tuesday, AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha said. The ethnic armed organisation targeted military outposts near a strategic hill there, he added. 

The AA has reported increasing desertions by the junta, pointing to the surrender of more than 20 police officers in Kyauktaw Township as well as personnel from nearly 40 border guard and police posts who recently turned themselves in to nearby AA camps.

The military has detained residents of Sittwe, Kyaukphyu, and Taungup townships on the suspicion of having ties to the AA. On Monday evening, the Myanmar army also reportedly fired heavy artillery in Kyauktaw, Minbya, and Mrauk-U townships, killing four civilians and injuring 15 more.

Sagaing Region

 IDPs from Depayin Townsip, Sagaing Region, seen in October (Depeyin Brothers Group)

Nearly 20 civilians were killed in one week due to airstrikes in Tigyaing Township, Sagaing Region, according to resistance sources.

Clashes in the township have been ongoing since anti-junta forces blocked the Ta Gaung-Tigyaing-Indaw road on the afternoon of November 8.

The junta air force has also been conducting several aerial attacks each day since the battles broke out, even bombing villages where there had been no previous fighting, a member of the Tigyaing Township People’s Administration Team said.

He added that two local women had been killed on the first day of fighting, and that the following day a monk and four other locals were killed by bombs, with several other civilians injured.

On Monday, a military fighter plane bombed Koe Te village, some five miles east of Tigyaing’s urban centre on the opposite shore of the Ayeyarwady River. Five bombs fell inside the village, killing one pregnant woman and injuring 15 other villagers, the administration team member said.

There were 12 additional civilian casualties when an air force plane bombed Ah Lel Taw and Inn Tein villages on Tuesday afternoon, according to the resistance-run Facebook page Tigyaing Revolution.

Tigyaing Revolution posts also claimed 19 civilians had been killed in the township in one week, including three children under the age of five.

A resistance fighter in the area said skirmishes near the Mya Taung intersection—on the southeast bank of the Ayeyarwady opposite Tigyaing’s urban centre—had resulted in casualties on both sides, including the deaths of eight members of the armed resistance.

Shan State

TNLA soldiers in the Myanmar-China border town of Namkham on November 10 (Myat Pan/Myanmar Now)

The junta air force carried out attacks on Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) fighters and their allies amid fierce fighting in northern Shan State on Tuesday, according to spokespersons for the TNLA.

After aircraft struck the area near Goteik village in Nawnghkio Township and the junta deployed a Mi-35 helicopter to fire on TNLA and allied forces at 10:18am and around noon, anti-junta fighters assaulted the army’s Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 502 at around 12:45pm in the town of Kyaukme, some five files to the northeast.

Kyaukme is the location of one of the army’s 21 military operations command headquarters in Myanmar and is where LIB 501 and 502 are based.

The TNLA and the the Mandalay People’s Defence Forces (MDY-PDF)—the latter of which operates under the command of the anti-junta National Unity Government—have been fighting against junta forces in Nawnghkio Township, which shares a border with Mandalay Region, since the beginning of November.

Earlier this month, anti-junta fighters intercepted and attacked a convoy carrying reinforcements from Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Region, into Nawnghkio Township.  Since then, battles have continued on the Mandalay-Mogok road and the Mandalay-Lashio road, both of which run through the township.

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