Myanmar: Stalemate as PDFs Tatmadaw Lock Horns in North
Myanmar’s armed forces the Tatmadaw are facing exceptional resistance from the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) across the country but seem to have been stalemated in the North where despite a harsh campaign burning villages and threatening the locals with helicopter and air strikes, the situation continues to remain tenuous.
Irrawaddy reported that one of the Myanmar junta’s harshest commanders, Lieutenant General Than Hlaing, has been removed from his position leading clearance operations against civilian resistance groups in the country’s most restive region.
This is an indication that military regime’s attempts to crush armed resistance in Upper Myanmar are failing.
Lt-Gen Than Hlaing was appointed as chief of the Myanmar Police and deputy home affairs minister after last year’s February 1 coup.
He is notorious for lethal crackdowns against peaceful anti-regime protesters and striking civil servants as per the Irrawaddy.
In October, Lt-Gen Than Hlaing was assigned to command the mission to crush People’s Defense Forces (PDF) in Sagaing and Magwe regions and Chin State but there has been limited progress as the resistance continues to resist the Tatmadaw with higher number of casualties.
Lieutenant General Than Tun Oo will replace Lt-Gen Than Hlaing as head of clearance operations in northwestern command.
Fighting has been intense in Chin, Kayah and Karen states and Sagaing and Magwe regions.
Irrawaddy and Myanmar Now have reported that there have been 25 battles in Hakha Township, which is home to the Chin State capital, while Falam, Thantlang and Kanpetlet have also been hotspots of violence.
Resistance fighters in Chin State claim they killed 1,029 junta soldiers and lost 58 of their own last year after taking up arms in April last year in response to crackdowns on anti-coup protesters, though these figures have not been independently confirmed.
Chinland Joint Defence Committee (CJDC) oversees the various chapters of the Chinland Defence Force (CDF).
Between the CDF and other PDFs in the belt it is apparent that the reputation of the likes of Lt Gen Than Tun Oo have suffered a major set back in the past one year.
Prime Minister of the underground National Unity Government (NUG) in an interview to Myanmar Now believes that the Tatmadaw can be defeated.
Mahn Win Khaing Than said in an interview that after intensive efforts to convince armed groups like the Karen National Union (KNU) to join the revolution last year and Myanmar’s anti-military forces have joined together with unprecedented solidarity.
The major barrier to defeating Min Aung Hlaing’s coup regime, he said, will be finding a way to overcome the military’s air force.
How far the hopes of the NUG will be fulfilled in the near future remains to be seen? Never the less the State Administration Council (SAC) headed by the military would be hoping that stalemate would lead to exhaustion of various PDFs thus reducing resistance through a campaign wrought with brutality and repression.