Thousands flee as Myanmar junta airlifts troops into Depayin 

Regime reinforcements transported to Sagaing Region’s Depayin Township by helicopter have forced thousands to flee from some 20 villages since Monday, according to local sources.

Around 70 junta troops landed near the villages of Thein Bar and Kyun Taw Gyi in three helicopters at around 4pm on Monday and have been assaulting nearby villages since, the sources said.

“They arrived in the area yesterday and they’re still here now,” a resident of Satpyarkyin, one of the affected villages, told Myanmar Now on Tuesday.

“They haven’t arrested anyone yet, but they have been firing heavy artillery non-stop from the monastery grounds since this morning,” he added.

The troops have reportedly been divided into two columns, with one occupying Satpyarkyin’s village school and monastery and the other stationed in Bote, another village a short distance away.

Both columns have kept up the same relentless artillery fire since arriving in the area, locals said.

On Saturday, residents of Satpyarkyin held a ceremony marking the first anniversary of a massacre by regime forces that killed at least two dozen locals, including many resistance fighters, and forced around 10,000 to flee their homes.

Later the same day, two Mi-35 attack helicopters flew over the area and opened fire, according to residents.

Late last year, Myanmar’s military carried out multiple assaults in Depayin Township, using helicopters to raid a number of villages that had seen little or no recent resistance activity.

Helicopters have been widely deployed in the area not just to transport troops, but also to carry out aerial attacks, according to local sources.

Local defence forces have called on the shadow National Unity Government to provide them with more effective weapons, saying that they continue to rely almost entirely on handmade rifles to resist much more heavily armed regime troops.

According to the latest report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 750,000 people have been displaced by conflict since Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup in February of last year.

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