Gateway to the North: Confirmation of Bombardment and New SAF Fortification at El Moreib Village, South Kordofan, Sudan

Map of El Moreib and El Obeid

New satellite imagery confirms the destruction of civilian infrastructure in and around El Moreib village and the recent fortification of a Sudanese army garrison at a critical crossroads on the northern front of the war between the Government of Sudan and the rebel movement centered in South Kordofan state.

Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, analysis of DigitalGlobe imagery and eyewitness reports confirms the destruction of approximately 25 percent of civilian infrastructure in the Nuba Mountans village of El Moreib, on the northern front of the rebellion in South Kordofan state, Sudan. In addition, the imagery confirms the recent fortification of a new Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, garrison there, and the destruction of 90 percent of a civilian residential area1.97 miles (3.18 km) south southwest of the main village. The destruction followed three days of indiscriminate bombardment of El Moreib and the surrounding area by SAF.

El Moreib is in the Abassiya locality along the northern front of operations for the rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North, or SPLA-N. The village is strategically located at a crossroads, which marks a gateway into the neighboring state of North Kordofan.

SSP’s findings corroborate eyewitness reports gathered by Eyes and Ears Nuba, an independent group of citizen journalists, that El Moreib and nearby villages have been repeatedly targeted for bombardment by SAF and for looting and razing by SAF and Popular Defense Force, or PDF, militias.

To date, SSP has documented the systematic razing of seven villages by SAF and PDF militias in the border areas of Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile state.

Timeline of Events

  • On August 21, 2012, SAF began building up troops between Dalami and Al Abassiya village, South Kordofan, according to Eyes and Ears Nuba.
  • On August 23, SAF attacked rebel positions in the mountains surrounding El Moreib, according to multiple confidential sources reporting to SSP. The rebels counter-attacked, and SAF responded by bombarding the village and surrounding area with heavy artillery for the next three days. From August 23-25, 2012, approxi­mately 600 SAF soldiers clashed with approximately 400-500 rebel troops in and around El Moreib. [1]
  • Approximately 3,000 civilians fled the El Moreib vicinity, most toward the rebel lines, according to Eyes and Ears Nuba.
  • On August 24, the SPLA-N temporarily took control of the village, raised the flag of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, or SRF, and appointed a civil administrator. [2]
  • On August 26, as SAF brought in reinforcements, SPLA-N withdrew without a firefight, and SAF took El Moreib.

 

Analysis of Imagery

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery acquired on September 8 and analyzed for SSP by DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center shows the reinforcement of SAF’s new infantry garrison at El Moreib. Imagery of the garrison, located on the northeast side of the village, shows evidence of recent fortification, including defensive positions, and establishes the pres­ence of transport and cargo trucks, fuel tanker trucks, and probable “technicals” -- Land Cruisers mounted with machine guns.

Additional imagery, also from September 8, reveals a significant degree of destruction to thatched-roof residential structures (called “tukuls”) in the northwest corner of El Moreib, as well as in the civilian residential area to the south southwest. There were reports of widespread looting in the market and significant destruction throughout the village. [3]

Conclusion

The systematic destruction of El Moreib, through razing and/or indiscriminate bom­bardment of civilian infrastructure, can constitute a crime against humanity and repre­sents a gross violation of human rights. and international humanitarian law.

Endnotes:

[1] “Clashes between SPLA-North and SAF in South Kordofan.” Radio Dabanga, August 24, 2012. Retrieved on September 24, 2012 from URL: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/34953

[2] “Sudan: SAF - 17 SPLA-N Soldiers Killed in El Moreib Clashes.” Radio Dabanga, August 26, 2012. Retrieved on September 24, 2012 from URL: http://allafrica.com/stories/201208270019.html

[3] “Dozens Dead in Sudan’s South Kordofan: Rebels.” Agence France-Presse, August 26, 2012. Retrieved on September 24, 2012 from URL: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jTuvxCToC9UvIpBeVkLEZ... 911c444241d635c3d.261