Myanmar Army’s Losses: Will There be a Domino Effect?

Khampat is a key town on the road connecting Moreh and could well lead to blocking of the Indian Myanmar axis.

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Guerrilla fighters, trained, equipped and financed by Western intelligence to overthrow military rule in Myanmar (File photo)

As Myanmar Army is reported to have lost control of some crucial towns on the Myanmar China Border, India should be concerned as there are reports that the rebel forces have seized control of Khampat a town in Sagaing Region on the India Myanmar border on the road connecting Moreh, border town in Manipur State in India.

Fighting in the North

The Brotherhood Alliance—a tripartite military grouping of Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAO) comprising the Arakan Army (AA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) claimed to have launched a series of offensives in the Northern Shan and Kachin States on October 27 seizing several military bases and having control of communications in this area.

Kachin Independence Army (KIA) which operates in the Shan State has also joined in the operation named as Operation 1027 – indicating the date of launch 27th October. As per a report in the Irrawaddy, Brotherhood Alliance has occupied more than 120 junta positions including military, junta-affiliated militia, and police outposts, and government offices since launching the operation on Oct. 27. They have also seized armored vehicles and artillery. These reports cannot be independently confirmed.

The head of the Myanmar Armed Forces as well as the coup formed Government State Administrative Council Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has stated that military would launch counterattacks against “Operation 1027” being conducted in northern Shan State by the Brotherhood Alliance. This comes as reports indicate that commander of 99th Light Infantry Division (LID) Colonel Aung Kyaw Lwin has become the first divisional-level commander to die in action since the 2021 coup as per the Irrawaddy.

Separately the military has accused the KIA of destructions and blows-up of non-military infrastructures like public railroads, highways and bridges used by the travelling public.

Tatmadaw has repeatedly communicated to the KIA not to attack its bases, the KIA ambushed the small bases commanded by platoon-level forces by overwhelming forces and … has been informed not to involve in the on-going clashes in Shan State (North), it was found that the KIA has ignored the warnings of the Tatmadaw and has engaged in the clashes said an official release.

Reports indicate that fighting has now spread to Sagaing and Magwe regions as local People’s Defense Forces join the resistance offensive setting up ambushes on the convoy of reinforcement of the military.

The Irrawaddy reports that the Brotherhood Alliance has flooded Facebook, with photos of camps and piles of weapons and ammunition they had seized, along with images of surrendering regime soldiers.

China Concerned

China called for an “immediate” ceasefire in Shan State, through which is the billion-dollar rail link in its Belt and Road infrastructure project passes. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing “expresses strong dissatisfaction with the escalation of the armed conflict and the casualties caused to Chinese personnel.” China, he said, “has lodged solemn protest with relevant parties” and is “paying close attention to the conflict situation in northern Myanmar.”

“China once again demands that all parties involved in the conflict in northern Myanmar immediately cease fire,” Wang said. Ground reports indicate that one Chinese person was killed and another two wounded after the military shelled the town of Laiza, home to the headquarters of ethnic armed group the Kachin Independence Army.

While fighting has been reported between the Myanmar army and the various resistance forces including the Peoples Defence Force and the Ethnic Armed Organisations in October this fighting spilled over in the areas of the Myanmar China border leading to cutting off communications as claimed by the EAO. This raised concerns with China seeking all sides to refrain from violence and get back to the negotiating table.

India Myanmar Border?

A report in the Myanmar Now indicated that anti-regime armed groups have seized control of Khampat, a town in western Sagaing Region located near the border with India, quoting the Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG). In a statement released on November 07 evening, the NUG said the town was captured after a four-day offensive by an alliance of anti-junta forces that included the NUG-led People’s Defence Force (PDF) and the Kachin Independence Army as per Myanmar Now. This report could not be independently confirmed.

Khampat is a key town on the road connecting Moreh and could well lead to blocking of the Indian Myanmar axis.

Will Nay Pyi Taw be Next?

While taking over of several posts by the Brotherhood Alliance and the KIA is a major disruption, it is unclear if the Myanmar Army will take back these posts as it has launched only air strikes so far.

For any substantial threat to the Myanmar regime however Nay Pyi Taw the capital and the junta strong hold will have to be threatened.

Some EAOs have operated near the capital in the past, will the Brotherhood alliance venture southwards remains to be seen?

Meanwhile over the last two years after the coup, extensive violence was reported from the Mon State, Karen State, Mandalay Region, Bago Region, Sagaing Region. The most intense fighting was reported from the Sagaing region.

According to a report from the Institute for Strategy and Policy—Myanmar issued in June this year, at least 8,640 civilians have been killed since the 2021 military coup. A report just released by the Peace Research Institute Oslo finds that at least 6,000 civilians were killed in the first 20 months following Myanmar’s military coup.

Rahul K Bhonsle

Brigadier (Retired) Rahul K Bhonsle, MSc, MPhil, MBA is an Indian army military veteran with 30 years active field experience in counter militancy and terrorism operations. He is presently Director of Sasia, a South Asian security risk and knowledge management consultancy which specializes in future scenarios, military capacity building and conflict trends in South Asia.

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