Khartoum — The Sudanese army announced Tuesday the recapture of an area located in the eastern part of the Nuba Mountains but the Sudan People's Liberation Movement -North (SPLM-N) said such operations aims to displace civilians from rebel areas.
SPLM-N fighters hold up their rifles near Jebel Kwo village in the rebel-held territory of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, May 2, 2012. (photo Goran Tomasevic Reuters)
The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) managed to retake Al-Ardiba where it captured "more than 30 armed vehicles, a large number of military hardware and ammunition, said a press statement issued in Khartoum.
The military communiqué further said this operation marks the end of the first phase of the "Decisive Summer" operation in the eastern parts of the Nuba mountains, adding that the army would continue its attacks in all axes against the rebel groups.
Early in this month of December, Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir and other officials vowed to clear the Nuba mountains from the SPLM-N rebels and their allies of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).
In a speech delivered on Independence Day on Tuesday, Bashir hailed the recapture of Al-Ardiba from the SPLM-N fighters stressing that SAF operations are nor directed against the Nuba civilians in South Kordofan.
"They are the victims of war", he said.
He also called for a national mobilisation to support the efforts of South Kordofan government to provide the affected population with humanitarian assistance, and directed to establish a national fund for the state's IDPs resettlement.
Thousands of South Kordofan civilians fed the conflict areas in the Nuba mountains and moved to other regions inside the country or to the neighbouring South Sudan, since the start of hostilities between the SPLA-N and Sudanese army in June 2011.
However, Khartoum refuses to allow aid groups to reach the affected civilians in the rebel held areas, urging the SPLM-N to negotiate a political agreement first .
Arnaud Lodi, SPLM-N spokesperson however minimised the attack saying that Al-Ardiba and surrounding areas had being recently bombarded on daily basis by the Sudanese army, pointing that Tuesday attack mainly aims to displace the civilians and burn cultivated fields before harvesting.
"The purpose of these attacks actually is to force civilians to move from their areas because they are seen as supportive to the SPLA fighters and feeding them", Lodi said when reached by Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
The further said that some 20,000 civilians recently left their villages as result of continued air raids.
The rebel spokesperson also described the military communiqué as "pure propaganda", saying the area is inhabited by civilians and the rebel fighters have no real presence there.
Many of Al-Ardiba population fled the area after the intense bombardment by the Sudanese army, "so it was practically void when they entered" , he added.
Lodi added they closely monitor the movements of SAF troops and its militias in the region.
"We noticed their deployment of (SAF soldiers) in Khairasana" which located 30 north of Heglig, he said. They moved their troops several times from Talodi to Kaoda (headquarters of the SPLA-N) but every time we hit them and they return back to their bases", he added.