South Sudan: SPLA Says Moving to Recapture Rebel Areas, Denies Machar Forces Advancing to Juba

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"Their sources of food supplies are looting only. These loots will soon dry off. As a national army, we call on our people to stand behind the SPLA forces in defend of territorial integrity, sovereignty and the constitution," Aguer stressed.

The SPLA stands ready to defend the country, its people, their properties and from protecting them from any physical threat or harm, he added.

But an official connected to the soldiers who rebelled in Unity state told Sudan Tribune that Aguer's comments were "propaganda" and dismissed the latter's claims that SPLA had retaken Mayom or was marching onto Bentiu.

"I just talked with people on ground and they told me that forces loyal to Salva Kiir attempted to launch an attack near Mayom, hoping to take it but it was contained. That attempt is no longer a threat to our people and the state administration", said the official who preferred anonymity.

"Everything is running normally. The market is presently operating as usual," he added.

On 21 December the commander of the SPLA's fourth division in Unity state, James Kaong, announced that he had rebelled against Kiir's government, declaring that he was the state's new governor. He has since appointed a new administration.

Representatives from both sides of the conflict have arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for peace talks and are expected to begin negotiations mediated by regional leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The United Nations says that at least 1,000 people have died and around 200,000 displaced by the conflict as thousands of civilians have sought shelter at UN bases.

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