Myanmar civil war (2021–present)

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Myanmar civil war
Part of the Myanmar conflict

Military situation as of 22 May 2024:

State Administration Council and allies

  Tatmadaw and allies[e]

National Unity Government and allies

  Karenni IEC resistance forces[h]
  Chinland resistance forces and allies[i]

Other combatants

For a detailed accurate up-to-date map, see here

For a list of engagements, see
here
Date5 May 2021 – present
(3 years, 2 weeks and 6 days)
Location in neighbouring countries)
Status Ongoing
Territorial
changes
Belligerents

Myanmar National Unity Government

Allied ethnic armed organisations:

Other organisations:

State Administration Council

Aligned ethnic armed organisations:


Commanders and leaders
Strength
100,000 (PDF, February 2024 estimate)[25] and more than 100,000 (LDF and allied ethnic armed organisations, EAOs) about 150,000 personnel; 70,000 combat troops (Tatmadaw, May 2023 estimate)[26]
Casualties and losses
  • 49,219 total killed (per ACLED, 12 April 2024)[27]
  • 4,961 civilians killed, 26,601 arrested (per AAPP, 1 May 2024)[28]
  • 2,330,200+ internally displaced, 95,600 refugees per United Nations 15 December 2023[29][30]
  • 11,400 residences destroyed (per ISP–Myanmar and Data for Myanmar, as of 12 May 2022)[31]
  • 83,746 civilian properties estimated burnt or destroyed since February 2022 (per Data for Myanmar, 14 April 2024)[32][33]
  • 440 houses and buildings sealed off by the Junta (per AAPP, February 2022).[34]
  • Two killed and 17 injured inside Bangladesh as part of spillover[35]

The Myanmar civil war,

exiled National Unity Government and major ethnic armed organisations repudiated the 2008 Constitution and called instead for a democratic federal state.[38] Besides engaging this rebel alliance, the junta also contends with other anti-junta forces in areas under its control.[39] Hannah Beech of The New York Times observed the insurgents are apportioned into hundreds of armed groups scattered across the country.[40]

As of March 2023, the

UNOCHA said that over 40,000 people had fled into neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, India and Thailand.[42]

As of October 2023, Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw, controlled under 40% of the country, although they maintained that they controlled around two thirds of the country's 330 townships.[15][43] In the second half of 2023, Chinland Defense Forces in the state of Chin had captured a majority of the state, with a few holdouts in urban areas and along the India–Myanmar border remaining. In October 2023, the Tatmadaw began facing manpower issues, with desertions and low morale being extremely common. This coincided with a major rebel offensive by the People's Defence Force and Three Brotherhood Alliance in the west of the country, which was successful in taking 80 bases, 220 junta positions and several towns by 28 November 2023.[44]

October and November 2023 saw a series of concurrent rebel offensives, including Operation 1111 besieging the state capital of Loikaw and renewed conflict by anti-junta forces in northern Rakhine and Chin states.[45][46] In Operation 1027, anti-junta forces seized Laukkai, the capital of Kokang Self-Administered Zone, in early January 2024.[18] Operation 1027 continued past a ceasefire in northern Shan State with Mrauk U, among others, falling to Arakan Army forces in February 2024.[17] As of February 2024, thousands of the junta's soldiers have surrendered without a fight, including six generals of the Tatmadaw.[47] The junta used terror tactics against the population, including burnings, beheadings, mutilations, war rape, torching villages, and a massive aerial bombing campaign that has displaced nearly three million people.[48] The Myanmar Air Force has dropped more bombs per capita than have been dropped in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[40] A group of observers write that the Tatmadaw's forces remain "formidable and well-equipped", with "external allies and economic resources".[49][50]

In late March 2024, anti-junta forces in southeastern Myanmar captured Demoso and Papun,[51][19] bringing the number of district-level towns captured by anti-junta forces up to six.

Background

Internal conflict in Myanmar

Insurgencies have been ongoing in Myanmar since 1948 and have largely been ethnic-based. Communist insurgencies and the Karen National Union were the primary opposition actors to the central government.[52][53] Over the 20th century, several prominent ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) rose and fell in influence and control. Larger rebel factions such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) formed in response to Ne Win's 1962 coup d'état and its increased political repression.[54] The 8888 Uprising, in response to the totalitarian rule of Ne Win, resulted in some of the first modern Bamar militias forming from protestors heading to areas under ethnic rebel control.[55]

In the aftermath of the 8888 Uprising, the

The

Northern Alliance, including the KIA and Arakan Army, engaged in war with the central government and other EAOs.[61]

2021 Myanmar coup d'état and protests

Thousands of protesters participating in an anti-junta rally in Yangon, February 2021

On the morning of 1 February 2021, the Tatmadaw successfully deposed the elected Myanmar government in a coup, forming a military junta. Former president Win Myint, Aung San Suu Kyi, and several other members of the National League for Democracy were detained during early morning raids and Min Aung Hlaing was placed as the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services and de facto ruler of the nation.[62]

The established motives behind the coup are unclear. In the leadup to the coup, the Tatmadaw claimed that the 2020 general elections had 8.6 million voter irregularities, but presented no evidence. The coup may have been a way to re-establish the military's long-reigning power over the country which ended ten years prior.[63]

The bloody repression of anti-coup demonstrations led to the creation of armed groups to fight the

ACLED estimated that as of 29 July 2022, around 23,521 people in total had been killed in the violence following the 2021 coup.[65][66]

In the months following the coup, the opposition began to coalesce around the National Unity Government, which launched an offensive against the State Administration Council (SAC) and the military junta. By 2022, the opposition controlled substantial, though sparsely populated, territory.[67][68][69] In many villages and towns, the junta's attacks drove out tens of thousands of people. On the second anniversary of the coup, in February 2023, the chairman of the SAC, Min Aung Hlaing, admitted to losing stable control over "more than a third" of townships. Independent observers note the real number is likely far higher, with as few as 72 out of 330 townships remaining under the control of the Tatmadaw, the military forces aligned with the junta. However, the townships under the control of the junta still included all major population centres.[14]

Prelude

Armed protesters

By late March 2021, dozens of protesters had travelled to Myanmar's border areas to enlist in and train under one of the country's many insurgent groups,

massacring civilians".[73]

During late March, protesters increasingly began arming themselves with homemade weapons in an attempt to defend themselves against attacks by the military. Clashes with soldiers and IED attacks against administrative buildings and police stations became more common and protesters slowly became armed resistance.[74]

After about thirty years of dormancy, the

People's Liberation Army (PLA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), became active again on 15 March 2021 when communist fighters crossed from China into Kachin State where the Kachin Independence Army would provide them weapons.[75] and by August 2021, the CPB established a new armed wing to fight against the junta.[76] Over the next two years, the PLA would grow its presence in Tanintharyi Region, where they fight alongside the PDF, claiming to have 1,000 active troops in December 2023.[77]

Renewed ethnic conflict

The unrest across the nation and the increased need for junta troops in previously peaceful urban areas strengthened EAOs. The Kachin Independence Army had already been on the offensive since February and

2021 Kalay clashes where protestors openly used homemade weapons against soldiers for the first time, targeting security forces attacking a protest camp.[80]

The military junta declared that it would cease all military operations on 29 March 2021 and hold bilateral negotiations with ethnic armed groups. However, the Kachin Independence Army continued its offensives stating that the Myanmar Army had not ceased operations.

All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Karen National Union (KNU).[81] The Northern Alliance, comprising the Arakan Army, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, attacked a police station in Naungmon, Shan State, killing at least 10 police officers and indicating their disregard of the junta's call for a ceasefire.[82] In response, on 11 April 2021, the junta military launched a counter-attack to recapture the Alaw Bum base using airstrikes and ground troops, but had to retreat amidst heavy casualties.[83]

On 26 April, the Battle of Mindat became one of the first large-scale conflicts arising from the 2021 coup. The Chinland Defense Force (CDF) began armed resistance in Mindat, Chin State and the junta declared martial law.[84] After a soldier allegedly fired at protestors, fighting between the two sides erupted.[85] The battle lasted four days, killing 30 junta soldiers and left Mindat abandoned as more than 10,000 people fled the area.[86]

Timeline

Onset of formal resistance and war (May 2021 – August 2021)

On 16 April 2021, pro-democracy politician Min Ko Naing announced the formation of the National Unity Government, with members of ethnic minority groups in senior roles. As part of the announcement he said that ousted leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint would retain their positions and asked the international community to recognize their government over the junta.[87][88] Throughout April, informal clashes with protestors intensified, such as in Taze when protesters fought back against soldiers with hunting rifles and firebombs on 8 April.[89]

The National Unity Government then declared the formation of an armed wing, the People's Defence Force (PDF) – on 5 May 2021, a date that is often cited as the start of the civil war. The PDF was formed to protect its supporters from military junta attacks and as a first step towards a Federal Union Army.[90] The PDF clashed with the Tatmadaw in the town of Muse on 23 May, killing at least 13 members of Myanmar's security forces.[91]

The Karen National Liberation Army attacked the military base of the junta on June 14, 2021.

In early June, fighting erupted in Myawaddy District where the military and Karen Border Guard Forces battled against a combined Karen and PDF force, leaving dozens of junta troops killed.[92] Members of the Karenni PDF in Kayah State also captured and destroyed several Tatmadaw outposts near the state capital, Loikaw.[93] Towards the end of May, the Tatmadaw used artillery and helicopters to strike PDF positions in Loikaw and Demoso.[94] On 30 May, the KIA joined the PDF in a battle against junta troops in Katha Township, killing eight regime soldiers. Fighting also sprouted up in other Kachin State townships, including Putao, Hpakant and Momauk.[95]

While there were fewer conflict deaths between May and September, there were still many armed clashes and a spike in early June.[96] Two dozen local officials appointed by the military were assassinated throughout the month of June with hundreds of bombings at police stations, banks and government offices.[97] On 22 June, junta forces using armoured vehicles raided a safehouse of the PDF in Mandalay, detaining several fighters.[98] Myanmar security forces killed at least 25 people in another raid in Tabayin.[99] These attacks occurred in Central Myanmar, also known as Anyar, an area that had rarely seen armed violence in recent times.[100] On 2 July, troops assaulted several villages in Sagaing Region and reportedly killed 41 civilians. The Washington Post described Myanmar was sliding toward "bloody anarchy".[97]

Declaration of war

On 7 September 2021, the NUG declared a

On 18 September, the

Pa-O Self-Administered Zone, aided the junta in capturing a resistance base near Aungban.[107]

By late September 2021, 8,000 residents of

In October, junta-controlled media reported that at least 406 junta informants had been killed and 285 wounded since 1 February in targeted attacks by resistance forces.[111]

Initial conflict (September 2021 – August 2022)

2021–2022 dry season campaigns

According to analyst Matthew Arnold, the civil war's momentum passed a critical threshold by the end of the 2022 dry season where the revolutionary sentiment had grown into a broader social and armed resistance that the junta could no longer suppress.

explosive devices and landmines. The PDF, with the strong ground support from local communities, attacked soft government targets like police stations, outposts and junta-owned businesses. Through these, the resistance became more organised as they seized weapons, got training and communicated between units through the help of the NUG and allied EAOs.[96] According to the Karen National Union, roughly 2,200 junta soldiers and militiamen were killed in the first half of 2022.[113]

South-eastern Myanmar
Moe Bye Reservoir

On 17 November 2021, dozens of junta soldiers ambushed an outpost of the Moebye PDF in Pekon Township, Shan State, forcing outnumbered PDF soldiers to retreat.[114] At least four junta soldiers were killed during a four-day clash in Hpruso Township with the KNDF and Karenni Army.[115]

On 14 December, around 200

Lay Kay Kaw Myothit near the Thai border, arresting people suspected to be activists or members of the PDF.[116] On 20 December, Tatmadaw forces burned down nineteen houses in Kunnar, Loikaw Township after taking it from the KNDF the week before.[117]

On 24 December, more than 35 people were massacred when they were ambushed by junta troops outside the village of Mo So in Kayah State.[118] Two staff members of the aid group Save the Children were among those killed.[119] The United Nations Security Council condemned the attack and called for a "thorough and transparent investigation" into the incident.[120][121]

Throughout February and March 2022, the junta carried out repeated air strikes against civilian targets in villages in

Collective Punishment against the country's ethnic minorities.[123]

Fighting broke out in parts of Loikaw on 14 April.[124] The number of refugees on the Thai border increased after increased combat in Kayin State.[125] On 15 April, junta soldiers suffered at least 30 casualties after being pushed back by the KNLA at the battle for Lay Kay Kaw.[126]

Central Myanmar
People's Defence Force fighting in Sagaing Region, 2022

The

Anyar theater of Central Myanmar starting in 2021 changed this trajectory. Without the presence of EAOs, the Bamar PDF groups are characterized as local cells acting autonomously towards simple and directed towards the 2021 coup. In the 2021-2022 dry season, the PDFs began to work more closely together and coordinate towards larger goals.[127] In early 2022, resistance forces were fighting in Monywa, the capital of Sagaing Region.[128] Resistance attacks on the junta saw the junta retaliate on civilians[129] Targeted personnel attacks increased, killing various junta personnel and destroying equipment.[130] The PDF also suffered losses, with 12 fighters killed in a battle in Khin-U Township.[131] Many cities saw violent clashes during 2022's Union Day.[132] Mandalay also saw fighting, with casualties on both sides.[133]

Northern Myanmar

Throughout the 2021–2022 dry season, various groups in Northern Myanmar carried out ambushes against military outposts and convoys. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the PDF attacked convoys in Mohnyin[134] and Hpakant townships.[135] In October, they also partially shut down gold mining operations run by junta allies.[136] After an ambush near Shwegu, the Tatmadaw responded with airstrikes and ground attacks against KIA bases in Hpakant and Mohnyin Townships.[137] In early February, the KIA assaulted several military bases in Kachin and Shan States, reportedly burning one in Hpakant Township down. The junta responded by increasing airstrikes and send reinforcements to the area.[138]

The Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and the Chin National Army (CNA) raided and ambushed outposts and convoys in Matupi[139] and Mindat Townships.[140] In December, the Tatmadaw recaptured the town of Thantlang from the CDF in an offensive that destroyed over a quarter of the town's buildings.[141]

On 14 January 2022, units of the CNA moved into Senam village, south of

Tamu, in neighboring Sagaing Region to attack a base run by the Indian-based People's Liberation Army of Manipur. After several hours of fighting, between 10-20 Manipuri rebels and 1 CNA fighter were killed.[142]

Yangon and other regions

During this time, there were several cases of

Hlaing Thar Yar Township, Yangon.[144] Urban warfare became less practical, so resistance forces began targeting junta-aligned officials. According to junta-aligned sources, 367 junta-appointed officials were assassinated in targeted attacks between February 2021 and February 2022.[145] Resistance forces also began targeting the homes of junta pilots in Yangon in response to airstrikes on civilians.[146]

Fighting also occurred in other

Tanintharyi regions and Chin, Shan and Kayah states.[147]

2022 monsoon decrease in intensity

Karenni Nationalities Defence Force soldiers, September 2022

The intensity of fighting decreased during the monsoon season.[103] Resistance forces were advantaged by the rainfall as the junta could not carry out air strikes as easily.[148] In June, resistance groups achieved control of 40–50% of the country. Arakan Army claimed to administer most of Rakhine State with an independent government. Chin National Front and CDF made plans to establish a new government. The KIA and the Wa State, a neutral de facto independent region of Myanmar, consolidated expanded territories.[149] However, the Myanmar Army retained tight control of almost every city in Myanmar and most of the country's natural resources, including important jade mines.[150] During this time, the PDF were also unable to move beyond rural guerilla tactics. Duwa Lashi La, acting president of the NUG, cited the lack of weaponry and international support as reasons for the prolonged conflict.[67]

On 31 May 2022, a

bombing killed one person and injured nine others near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. State media accused the People's Defence Force of being responsible for the attack, which the PDF denied.[151] A July clash in Pekon Township, Shan State also killed around 40 junta soldiers and 11 PDF fighters.[152]

Massacres and executions

The military deployed its time-tested counterinsurgency methods in what has been called a "hammer approach" of bombing and burning villages and massacring civilians to flush out rebel groups. However, the approach was ineffective because they were unable to consolidate power or deter the resistance.[67]

Myanmar military forces executed at least 37 villagers in the Mon Taing Pin massacre in May 2022 after shelling the village of Mondaingbin, Sagaing Region with heavy artillery.[153] The junta forces entered the local Buddhist monastery, conscripted young male villagers briefly before executing them and other captives by a stupa.[154]

On 23 July 2022, the

Zayar Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu, which was the first use of capital punishment in Myanmar since the late 1980s.[155] The men had been accused of helping the resistance movement.[156] The event was widely seen as a provocation to escalate the ongoing conflict by the Tatmadaw.[157] The international community, including United Nations Secretary-General, the G7 nations and the European Union strongly condemned the executions.[158][156]

According to a special report from Radio Free Asia, junta soldiers following a raid in Kachin state’s Se Zin village in August 2022, set fire to more than 400 homes with at least 15 people killed on the spot, detained some 400 people in and around Se Zin, and about 100 of them have been killed (including extrajudicial massacre) by security forces between August 2022 and January 2023 while others died due to horrific prison conditions.[159]

On 16 September 2022, the Burmese military killed 11 children and wounded another 17 in the Let Yet Kone massacre, as part of an airborne strike conducted against a school in Let Yet Kone, Sagaing Region.[160] The military claimed that the village was harbouring resistance fighters from the KIA and PDF.[161] The attack was widely condemned by the international community, including the United Nations and European Union.[162][163]

Later in September 2022, retired Brigadier General Ohn Thwin, mentor to State Administration Council vice-chairman Senior General Soe Win, was assassinated by anti-regime guerilla groups in Yangon. This assassination caused an increase in security on high-ranking junta personnel.[164]

Breakdown of Arakan ceasefire, monsoon 2022

In early 2022, the Arakan Army and the junta clashed again in northern Rakhine State. On 8 February, Arakan Army and junta forces clashed on at least two occasions in Maungdaw in Rakhine State. Fighting broke out on 4 February when junta troops carried out a sneak attack on an AA outpost near the Letpan Mountains northeast of Mee Taik Village, killing an AA sentry, according to AA spokesman Khaing Thukha. Three hours of clashes were also reported on 6 February. The clashes raised fears of a breakdown of the informal ceasefire between the AA and the military which had been in place since November 2020.[165] Further clashes in northern Maungdaw on the night of 7 February killed two civilians.[166] Several junta troops, including a major, were also killed in the attack.[167]

The Bangladesh-Myanmar border

Between June and August 2022, the informal ceasefire reached in late 2020 between the

Rakhine state. With the military's attention diverted to the increasing resistance elsewhere and increasing popular support for an alliance with the NUG, the AA sought to expand its influence into southern Rakhine.[168] Rhetoric from AA leader Twan Mrat Naing in June grew more provocative with military spokespeople stating that the AA was inviting conflict.[169] Armed clashes resumed in July after the junta launched an airstrike against an AA base in Kayin State, killing 6 AA soldiers. AA retaliated in Maungdaw Township and western Chin State in late July and early August. By late August, land travel to northern Rakhine required passing a series of checkpoints and all public transport ships ceased operation due to river and land blockades.[170]

On 16 August 2022, two mortar shells fired by the Myanmar Army landed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, killing one man and injuring five others. Myanmar Army helicopters allegedly entered Bangladeshi air space to attack the Arakan Army and fired a shell within Bangladeshi air space. Two days later, Bangladesh summoned Myanmar ambassador Aung Kyaw Moe to strongly protest the land and airspace violations.[171][172] In October 2022, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen made a statement that border bombings by Myanmar stopped after he met with the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming.[173]

Escalation of the civil war (September 2022 – November 2022)

Increased resistance efforts

In mid-October 2022, NUG issued a statement calling for the victory of the Spring Revolution by the end of 2023. This call to action was followed by increased fighting by the resistance forces in urban areas and in Southeastern Myanmar.[174] This development took place in the wake of the junta torching at least 20 villages in the Sagaing and Magway Regions as part of a "four cuts" strategy of attacking civilians to weaken anti-regime movements. According to Sagaing-based resistance spokespeople, many victims of arson then joined the resistance.[175] The urgency of the resistance was likely prompted by the looming elections planned by the State Administration Council.[174] The fragmentated nature of the grassroots elements of the PDF became more organized in 2022 through the command of the NUG and from cooperation with various EAOs- especially the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).[15]

The

Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) claimed in January 2023 that 1,692 regime troops and 211 resistance fighters were killed since the 2021 coup, 293 civilians had been killed by the regime, and 126 displaced civilians died while fleeing their homes in Kayah and Shan states in 2022.[176]

Highland attacks
A street in Kawkareik

The Karen National Liberation Army stepped up fighting, besieging the major town of Kawkareik on the Thai border in the 21 October 2022 Battle of Kawkareik.[174] The battle began with surprise attacks on the Asia Highway and at government offices within the town. Resistance forces looked poised to take the town, but ultimately withdrew two days later after facing junta air strikes and strategically drawing junta troops away from nearby positions.[177][178] Four days later, undeterred KNLA-led forces seized a junta Light Infantry Battalion base in Kyain Seikgyi Township.[179]

In Shan State, clashes between PDF forces near Inle Lake and the Pa-O National Organisation (PNO) broke out after the PNO coerced villages for speedboats and militia recruits.[180]

View of the Kalay-Falam Road

In late 2022, Chin State resistance forces used drones in a week-long siege of an outpost in Falam Township, killing 74% of the junta forces stationed, but failing to take the outpost against aerial bombardments.[181] In February 2023, CNA captured Thantlang police station and took control of the town.[182] In Kachin State, the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA) became more actively allied with the junta as conflict between SNA and the KIA grew. In August, the SNA and the Myanmar Army set fire to hundreds of homes in Kachin state forcing KIA withdrawal from the area.[183]

Chin forces also targeted convoys on roads within the state. In March 2023, combined Chin resistance consisting of

kyat for seizing two armoured vehicles.[185] The following day, the groups attacked another junta convoy carrying 80 troops on the road between Matupi and Paletwa, killing over 30 junta soldiers.[186] In April, CNDF attacked a junta base on the Kalay-Falam road near Varr, Falam Township, killing eleven regime soldiers and capturing fourteen.[187]

Lowland attacks

In November 2022, resistance in Bago Region increased. In Monyo Township, western Bago Region, the PDF attacked a police building using cluster bombs.[188] In eastern Bago, 15 junta soldiers were killed in a Bago PDF raid on a police station in Yedashe Township.[189] Thousands of civilians also fled Shwegyin Township as joint KNLA and NUG-led resistance forces seized three military outposts.[190]

A rural area near Mawlaik, Sagaing Region

In early December, a video of PDF forces beating and shooting a woman dead emerged on social media. The NUG Ministry of Defence said that the incident happened in June in Tamu, Sagaing and that they were investigating the incident after detaining the perpetrators involved.[191]

In early January 2023, PDF groups in Kani Township, Sagaing Region attacked junta supply ships, killing at least 25 soldiers. The junta increasingly used waterways for supplies, avoiding roadways in resistance-held areas.[192] In April 2023, a combined PDF force from nearby townships seized the Tower Taing hill base Kani Township, killing 30 junta soldiers and seizing weapons.[193][194]

In early 2023, the Mandalay PDF announced their intentions to ramp up military operations.[195] Alongside the TNLA, they engaged in a series of intense clashes with the junta forces in Nawnghkio Township near the Shan-Mandalay border, killing at least 75 junta soldiers and wounding 60 others.[196] A combined force of at least 900 junta and pro-junta militia troops attacked resistance positions with the help of artillery attacks and airstrikes during the clashes but were forced to retreat.[197]

Urban attacks

In 2023, the number of attacks in urban areas increased. In March 2023, the urban guerilla group Urban Owls assassinated Minn Tayzar Nyunt Tin, a legal and money-laundering aide to the junta with links to former Air Force commander General Myat Hein, in Thanlyin, Yangon. Minn Tayzar Nyunt Tin helped draft the repressive Cyber Security Law, which was seen as violating digital rights, privacy and freedom of expression.[198]

Junta retaliation and atrocities

In October 2022, battles and skirmishes increased, as the junta committed several civilian atrocities. On 21 October, junta forces decapitated Saw Tun Moe, a high school teacher from Thit Nyi Naung, and impaled his head on a NUG-administered school's spiked gate after burning and looting Taung Myint village in Magway Region.[199]

Mogaung Township, east of Hpakant

Two days later, on 23 October, over 80 people were killed by an airstrike in Hpakant Township, Northern Myanmar, during an anniversary celebration for the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). At least 80 civilians were killed, making it the single deadliest attack on civilians since the start of the renewed civil war.[200] The junta denied civilian casualties while the United Nations condemned the attack.[201]

In November 2022, the junta continued burning villages in Sagaing Region, including the home village of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the head of the Catholic Church in Myanmar.[202] Junta soldiers also hid in civilian trucks impersonating workers to ambush local defence forces in Shwebo Township.[203]

On 2 February 2023, Min Aung Hlaing imposed martial law in 37 townships with resistance activity, affecting millions of residents.[204]

Scorched earth tactics

In November 2022, the dry season allowed the greater use of the Myanmar Air Force to weaken resistance forces' ability to maintain strategic positions and outposts. Aerial bombardment, helicopter raids and artillery strikes typically followed skirmishes once junta ground forces sustained substantial losses and retreated. Once the entrapped forces were relieved by aerial support, they would engage in scorched earth tactics. World War Two veterans described the destruction as worse than that of the Burma campaign of World War II due to the deliberate targeting of civilian villages.[205] The heavy use of air forces came alongside a decrease in junta's ability to fight on the ground. During the week of 21 November, repeated junta air attacks along the Sagaing-Kachin border killed 80 and disrupted supply chains between the two resistance regions.[206] The junta's scorched earth campaign stretched across northern Myanmar, burning bases and villages they could no longer defend.[207] Thousands of residents fled during the campaign as hundreds of homes were destroyed.[208] In early 2023, one scorched earth push by the junta aimed to resecure the Letpadaung Copper Mine in Salingyi Township for Chinese foreign workers planning to leave for their holidays.[209]

On 23 February 2023, army troops launched a new military offensive in Sagaing, raiding and pillaging villages at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Mu Rivers. During the offensive, troops from the 99th Light Infantry Division executed at least 17 villagers during the Tar Taing massacre.[210]

Temporary stalemate (November 2022 – September 2023)

November 2022 Arakan ceasefire

Fields in Maungdaw Township, northern Rakhine State

On 26 November 2022, the Arakan Army and the junta agreed to a temporary ceasefire starting on 27 November. The ceasefire was brokered by Yōhei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation. Arakan Army spokespeople maintained that they agreed to the ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, as opposed to international pressure. The Arakan Army did not withdraw from fortifications held at the time of the ceasefire.[211] Junta spokespeople said that this was the first step towards a permanent ceasefire with the Arakan Army.[212] As of mid-December, tensions remained high with forces from both sides remaining in deployment within northern Rakhine State.[213]

Subsequent new fronts

On 30 November, the military launched a major assault on the Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army using heavy weapons on a base near Chinshwehaw by the Chinese border. This assault continued into 2 December, reportedly sending 500 junta soldiers.[214]

The military continued its campaign in northern Shan State against the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). On 7 December 2022, the junta launched a ground offensive on the TNLA in the Battle of Namhsan using aerial bombs.[215] After six days of fighting, the TNLA captured four villages from junta control, killing 70 soldiers and capturing 28. On 17 December, the junta retreated, claiming that they reached an agreement with TNLA, and that they intended to target the PDF forces and attacked the TNLA in mistake. The TNLA rejected the statement.[216] Continued clashes in late December forced over a thousand civilians to flee to Mogok.[217]

2023 guerrilla attacks

Burning Car in Lashio, April 2023

According to analysts in early 2023, the civil war was in a state of stalemate. Despite several successful engagements, there was still a significant disparity in power between the joint resistance forces and the junta. The PDF and EAOs faced resource constraints as they primarily relied on donations for funding and underground channels to acquire arms.[15] The resistance also increasingly used coordinated drone attacks, such as on 27 August 2023, when 11 resistance groups jointly conducted drone strikes in Sagaing Township, killing 17 soldiers.[218]

In early April, the

Border Guard Force (BGF)-held Shwe Kokko in retaliation for the imprisonment and killing of the group's spokesperson by the BGF. After the reported capture of 5 BGF bases,[219] by 8 April, the offensive began to stall. After junta/BGF counterattacks, the KTLA was forced to retreat, receiving heavy losses. Afterwards, the KNU stated that they did not approve these attacks, nor that they would accept the KTLA in their territory.[220]

In early June 2023, NUG announced the formation of the PDF's first battalion in Yangon Region – Battalion 5101.[221] On 19 June 2023, the Urban Owls guerilla group assassinated Ye Khaing, the operations director and head of security of Yangon International Airport, and a former air force major, outside his house at Mingaladon Township, Yangon. Ye Khaing was allegedly providing information to the junta and detaining anti-junta activists at Myanmar's primary international airport.[222] Urban Owls also claimed that Ye Khaing was a confidante of Steven Law, the owner of Asia World Company, which operates the airport, and is a major supporter of the regime together with the second-in-command, Senior General Soe Win.[223]

In late June 2023, a combined resistance force of PDF and KNLA took control of the

Ye - closed down.[228]

On 10 August 2023, junta forces clashed with a coalition of several rebel groups at

Nay Pyi Taw. The rebel forces aimed to capture the 606th Light Infantry Division Headquarters.[229] On 15 September 2023, members of the Northern Thandaung Defence Force, along with the Lethal Prop drone unit, attacked the Aye Lar military base near the Nay Pyi Taw International Airport with 2 makeshift bombs. It was the first documented drone attack by resistance forces against an airbase.[230]

On 31 August and 9 September, the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) raided 2 Chinland Defense Force (CDF) outposts in Tonzang Township, killing 2 CDF soldiers. These attacks were not the first between the ZRA and Chin resistance[o], which have been clashing since 2021, and came despite the ZRA issuing a public statement of support for anti-junta resistance in 2021.[10]

2023 monsoon offensives

In August 2023, the NUG claimed that 3,012 junta troops were killed between January and July 2023.[231] In Kayah state alone, 667 military junta troops and 99 resistance members were killed.[231] In a September interview, Duwa Lashi La claimed that resistance forces had taken effective control of about 60% of Myanmar's territory.[232]

In early June 2023, a coalition force of KNLA and other resistance forces ambushed junta forces at Don Tha Mi bridge checkpoints on the border of Karen and Mon States, inflicting heavy casualties.[233] The next day, resistance groups raided the police station and junta offices in Kyain Seikgyi Township, Karen State, killing 10 junta soldiers and injuring 15. The junta retaliated with artillery fire and deployed attack helicopters, killing two local civilians and a monk.[233]

In

Border Guard Force in 2009, openly defected to anti-junta forces. The KNPLF began attacking Burmese military positions, joining forces with KA, KNDF, KNLA, and PDF,[234] and seizing junta outposts in the Battle of Mese. The combined forces took over Mese Township in Eastern Kayah State.[235] 430 soldiers of the Light Infantry Battalion, including their lieutenant colonel commander, surrendered to the resistance.[236] Later in July, KNLA forces and allies captured the Lat Khat Taung hill junta base. During an attempt to recapture the hill, 20 junta soldiers were killed and 34 wounded.[237]

From July to September 2023, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army and the Mandalay People's Defence Force jointly conducted Operation Kanaung against junta forces in the Mandalay Region. Over that period, 76 junta soldiers were killed, 19 were wounded, and a large amount of weapons and ammunition were seized.[238][239]

Operation 1027 and concurrent offensives (October 2023 – January 2024)

Operation 1027

Captured Tatmadaw equipment in Kawlin, November 2023
Map of anti-junta gains made during Operation 1027 and Taungthaman as of February 2024

On 27 October 2023, the Three Brotherhood Alliance initiated an offensive they called Operation 1027, targeting the junta's checkpoints and bases near Lashio and the Phaung Seik border trade post near Chinshwehaw.[240] Chinshwehaw fell into ethnic armies' hands. Lashio Airport and two important China-Myanmar border crossings near Laukkai were closed.[241][242] Over the next three days, the coalition forces captured 57 bases to which the junta responded with aerial bombardments.[243] Simultaneously, the AA engaged junta forces in Htigyaing Township, Sagaing Region.[244]

On 30 October,

Hsenwi.[250]

On 6 November, TNLA forces seized bridges and road gates near

Monekoe across northern Myanmar, re-establishing local government functions after securing towns.[253][254][255] They also took Panlong base in Kunlong Township, killing Brigadier General Aung Kyaw Lwin in the battle,[256] and the strategic Goktwin bridge near the Goteik viaduct on the main Mandalay-China highway.[257]

On 17 November, the TNLA captured the Sakhan Thit Kone base in Namhkam Township, but lost it to a junta offensive the following day. The TNLA accused the junta of using chemical weapon bombs during the counter-siege.[258] Through December, the TNLA seized Namhsan and Mantong taking over the Pa Laung Self-Administered Zone from junta control.[20][259]

On 29 November, the

Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) declared a truce between their respective armies in response to the Operation, with the SSPP stating that the 2 armies "[intended] to unite as one in the future."[260]

In early December, the Tatmadaw allegedly reached out to China for it to assert pressure on the Three Brotherhood Alliance to stop Operation 1027.[261] On 11 December, China helped to hold peace talks between the Tatmadaw and various rebel groups, including the Brotherhood Alliance.[262] The Brotherhood Alliance announced later on 13 December that these peace talks "lasted only 10 minutes" and vowed to continue fighting.[263]

In late January 2024, BBC News said that the "bloody two-year stalemate" of the civil war appears to "have been broken" with the success of the offense of the three ethnic armies in the Operation 1027 offense.[47]

Arakan Army offensive
Paletwa seen from the Kaladan River, 2015

On the morning of 13 November 2023, as part of

Rakhine state after attacks by the Arakan Army, but few came under their immediate control.[264] Dozens of Myanmar security officers surrendered to the Arakan Army the following day.[265]

On 14 November, the Arakan Army launched an offensive in Paletwa Township in neighbouring Chin State. The Arakan Army accused the Tatmadaw of using chemical weapons during the ensuing battles.[266]

The following night, the Arakan Army launched an attack on

helicopter gunships alongside naval support to fire back, including at civilian housing, with heavy machine gun fire. Pauktaw's proximity to the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, posed a threat to the junta.[267] Junta forces detained about 100 residents who were unable to flee, and positioned themselves to surround the town, using two navy ships to blockade the harbour.[268]

On 6 December, the Arakan Army would captured a major military base in the township.[269]

Battle of Laukkai
China–Myanmar border gate near Laukkai

In late November and December, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) closed in on Laukkai, the capital of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone. They seized several strategic positions from junta forces during the ensuing Battle of Laukkai.[270] MNDAA forces attacked junta bases around the city in early December, including the Four Buddhist Statues Hill outpost immediately south of Laukkai.[271] On 26 December, over 90 of the junta's 55th Light Infantry Division surrendered to the MNDAA.[272] The artillery shelling of Laukkai stopped and the city mostly fell under MNDAA control on 28 December.[273] On 5 January 2024, the MNDAA seized control of the Northeast Command's headquarters in Laukkai and gained full control of the city.[18]

A few days later, the Three Brotherhood Alliance claimed it had captured the towns of Kutkai and Theinni on 8 January after seizing junta military posts in the towns, including the headquarters of the 16th Military Operations Command in Theinni.[274] On 23 January, the Tatmadaw sentenced three of the brigadier generals who surrendered at Laukkai to death and the other three to life imprisonment, under military law.[275]

In the wake of these gains and the fall of Laukkai, on 12 January, China announced that it had negotiated another ceasefire between the junta and the Three Brotherhood Alliance, known as the "Haigeng Agreement".[276] The two sides agreed to disengage personnel and pledged not to compromise the safety of Chinese border residents.[277] According to the Brotherhood Alliance, they had agreed not to seize more towns in northern Shan and that the junta had agreed not to shell or strike that area.[278] However, the following day, the TNLA reported that the junta had broken their ceasefire agreement with airstrikes in various townships in Northern Shan, including Lashio Township and Kyaukme Township.[279]

Tatmadaw defensive response
Two ATR-42 of the Myanmar Air Force at Mawlamyine Airport

Naypyitaw, including by moving troops from other regions to the capital and mobilizing civil servants into the military. These preparations started soon after Operation 1027 was launched against the Tatmadaw. In addition, the Tatmadaw was preparing 10,000 troops for the defence of Mandalay, Bago and Yangon. There were also fortification works beginning, with Naypyitaw police stations "also preparing concrete blocks, sandbags and other materials needed to transform into defensive bases in just a few days".[280]

Ronan Lee, a professor at Loughborough University, stated that the recent strategic reversals, nationwide territorial losses and economic decline meant momentum had strongly shifted away from Myanmar's junta, and the junta "may now be in a death spiral".[281]

Concurrent operations

Tatmadaw convoy near Pyin Oo Lwin, October 2023

Operation 1027 was supported by several concurrent operations by other anti-junta groups elsewhere in the country, including in the eastern regions Shan State and Kayah State. In northern Shan State, the KNLA and PDF clashed with the Tatmadaw around the town of Kawkareik in late October 2023.[282] In Mese Township (part of Kayah State), the KNPLF, KA and KNDF launched a joint military operation called Operation 1107 that captured several border posts starting on November 7.[283][284] Four days later, they launched the major Operation 1111 against Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State.[285] The military operations in Kayah displaced tens of thousands of civilians, especially from Loikaw.[286] After over a month of heavy fighting, rebel forces had won control of 85% of the capital.[287] Nonetheless, fighting has continued into January.[288] By late January, however, the offensive on Loikaw had mostly stalled.[289]

Other anti-junta forces launched Operation Taungthaman in Madaya Township, Mandalay Region. On 13 November, fighting erupted in Kinn Village, eastern Madaya Township between the TNLA and the junta, who responded with air and artillery strikes and later burning the village down.[290] By 28 November, PDF and TNLA forces captured a junta base in the township.[291] The TNLA additionally supported the operations with attacks in Nawnghkio and Kyaukme Townships in southern Shan State to cut off junta reinforcements.[292]

Chin offensive

Kennedy Peak, Chin State

On the morning of 13 November 2023, after two days of fighting, the Chin National Army (CNA), along with local Chinland Defense Force (CDF) units, captured the town of Rikhawdar on the India–Myanmar border.[293] This marked the first town captured by resistance forces in Chin State since the start of armed resistance following the coup. At least 40 junta soldiers and police officers fled to the neighboring Indian state of Mizoram, where they surrendered to local police before being turned over to the Assam Rifles. They were subsequently repatriated back to Myanmar.[294]

On 15 November 2023, the Chin National Defence Force (CNDF), the armed wing of the Chin National Organization (CNO), a Chin nationalist political organization, captured a Myanmar Military camp at Tibual village near the border with Mizoram, India. This action led to 29 Myanmar soldiers fleeing towards the neighboring Indian state of Mizoram.[295]

On 21 November, local Zoland PDF units seized a military base on Kennedy Peak, the second highest mountain in Chin State.[296] Over the next week, CNA and its allies captured Lailenpi[297] and Rezua in Matupi Township.[298]

On 6 December 2023, the Chin National Front ratified the Chinland Constitution, proclaiming the state of Chinland.[299]

On 17 January 2024, the Taingen camp on the

Falam road to the Indian border was captured, with Chin resistance forces seizing arms and ammunition.[300] On 20 January 2024, after more than 600 junta soldiers and refugees crossed the India–Myanmar border, the Government of India announced a plan to fence the entire border.[301]

New conflict landscape (January 2024 – present)

Following the fall of Laukkai and the junta facing serious threats by the Three Brotherhood Alliance, the war has turned into a more multipolar landscape with borderlands being seized by powerful anti-junta groups with significant implications for the foreign relations of Myanmar. Groups not a part of the alliance took advantage of the situation, but remained constrained by both tense relations and limited coordination.[302]

Rakhine offensive intensifies

On 8 January 2024, the Arakan Army continued Operation 1027 and captured the Taung Shey Taung base and its 200 junta soldiers in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State. They then escalated their offensive into Paletwa Township, Chin State with the aim of capturing Paletwa, a strategic town for the Indo-Myanmar Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project[303] On 15 January, the Arakan Army seized Paletwa and the entire township, declaring it a "military council-free area."[304] A week later, the Arakan Army captured the town of Pauktaw in Rakhine State concluding a three-month battle.[305]

On 3 February 2024, as the clashes between Arakan Army and Tatmadaw increased in Rakhine, mortar shells and several bullets reportedly landed in Bangladesh territory, which injured some local residents near

Bandarban district.[307]

Between 4 February and 6 February, the Arakan Army launched attacks on Rakhine BGP outposts in Maungdaw Township, later alleging without providing evidence that the

Rohingyas living in Kyaukphyu, the AA urged Rohingya people to flee into AA-controlled areas.[309]

Fall of Mrauk U
Mrauk U ancient temples in 2017

The Arakan Army captured most remaining Tatmadaw bases in Minbya by 6 February, almost taking full control of the township. On the same day, the Arakan Army seized the Taung Pyo junta outpost along the border with Bangladesh in Maungdaw Township.[310] The Arakan Army captured Kyauktaw the next day and continued fighting in Mrauk U and Ramree.[311] The Tatmadaw abandoned Myebon to reinforce Kyaukphyu on 9 February, leaving ammunition behind in their rush and abandoning the southern township of Mrauk-U District.[312] The following day, AA took the town of Mrauk U completing their control over the township. During the battle, three Myanmar Navy landing craft were reportedly sunk.[17][313] In response to the seizure of the three towns, the junta blew up bridges in Kyauktaw Township and the state capital, Sittwe.[314]

On 15 February, the Arakan Army captured Myebon[315] and started intensifying their assaults on Ramree, killing around 80 junta soldiers.[316] The Arakan Army captured the final junta outpost in Minbya Township on 28 February, taking full control of the township.[317]

Continued northern Rakhine offensives

On 5 March, the Arakan Army captured the town of Ponnagyun and its surrounding township. Situated only 33 kilometres northeast of Sittwe, Ponnagyun's capture has allowed the AA to threaten the regional capital.[318] During the battle, Myanmar Navy warships and fighter jets shelled the town, destroying the bridge connecting Ponnagyun to Rathedaung.[319] The Arakan Army continued its assaults on Rathedaung and Buthidaung Townships, capturing the former in its entirety on 17 March and cutting off Sittwe from the rest of Rakhine by land.[320] In Maungdaw Township, AA also captured a border outpost forcing 179 junta soldiers to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.[321]

During these offensives, on 10 April, the Arakan Army rebranded itself as the "Arakha Army" to represent all people living in Rakhine State.[322] The Arakha Army and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) clashed in Buthidaung Township on 15 April, killing 25 Rohingyas. A local reported that the Tatmadaw and ARSA fought together during the clashes.[323]

On 3 May, the Arakha Army captured the headquarters of the

Rohingya activists accused the Arakha Army of burning and targeting Rohingya homes in the town, a claim which the Arakha Army denied.[328] The Arakha Army began launching attacks on neighboring Maungdaw on 22 May.[329]

Central and southern Rakhine offensives

On 12 March, after an 85-day battle, the Arakan Army captured the town of Ramree. The capture of Ramree brought nearly all of Ramree Island under the Arakan Army's control except for the port city of Kyaukphyu.[330]

On 24 March, the Arakan Army began an offensive on Ann Township concurrently with their offensive on Sittwe, launching attacks on Ann, the headquarters of the junta's Western Command. North of Ann, the Arakan Army launched attacks on neighbouring Ngape Township in Magway Region. Ann's location is strategically important as the link between Rakhine and Magway via the Minbu-Ann road through the Arakan Mountains and as a gateway preventing AA from attacking southern Rakhine State.[331] On 27 March, Arakan Army forces seized a camp near Ge Laung village, Ann Township.[332] On 2 April, the Arakan Army announced it had captured a portion of the Ann-Minbu Highway, cutting off Ann from neighboring Padein.[333]

On 13 April, the Arakha Army began clashing with junta forces along the Thandwe-Taungup highway. On 22 April, intense clashes broke out around the Tha Htay hydropower plant in norther Thandwe Township, reportedly leading to the deaths of "dozens" of junta soldiers.[334] On 25 April, the Arakha Army began clashing with junta forces near the Ngapali Beach.[335] On 27 April, the Arakha Army captured Taw Hein Taung base in the hilltops of Ann township. [335]

Continued Chin offensive and infighting

On 31 January, 2024, an alliance of 7

Chinland Defence Forces, alongside the Chin National Army (CNA), launched an offensive on Chin Brotherhood Alliance member the Maraland Defence Force after the MDF reportedly killed a CNA soldier and detained several CDF-Mara soldiers.[336]

After launching an offensive on the town in December 2023, the

Arakha Army, captured the strategic town of Kyindwe in southern Chin State on 2 May.[337] On 16 May, several Chin resistance groups, including the CBA member Zoland Defense Force, launched an offensive to capture Tonzang from the junta and its allied Zomi Revolutionary Army.[338] By 20 May, Chin resistance captured most of Tonzang and neighboring Cikha from the junta.[339] The next day, Chin resistance captured all of Tonzang and began pursuing retreating junta soldiers.[340]

New Shan State combatants

Southern Shan state mountains near Hopong

On 20 January 2024, the Tatamadaw and the

Pa-O Self-Administered Zone, according to the Pa-O Youth Organization.[345] On 3 March, junta soldiers based in neighboring Hsaik Hkawng and Bang Yin attacked Hsi Hseng, entering the city.[346] On 8 March, the PNLA accused the junta of using chemical bombs to attack Hsi Hseng in violation of international agreements.[347]

On 1 March, representatives from the junta and the Three Brotherhood Alliance met again in Kunming, with the junta reportedly agreeing to recognise the MNDAA's authority over Shan State Special Region 1, which was controlled by the MNDAA from 1989 to 2009.[348] On 26 March, the MNDAA and the Tatmadaw clashed for the first time since the Chinese-brokered ceasefire. Junta forces attempted to invade MNDAA-controlled territory from Kone Nyaung, south-east of Lashio, clashing with the MNDAA for 45 minutes before being repelled.[349] In response, the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar met with the junta foreign minister on 28 March to discuss ending the clashes.[350]

Between 26 and 27 March, the MNDAA and the

Hseni Township, after the MNDAA reportedly began launching drone bombs and attacks on SSPP camps.[351]

On 3 May, the Vice-

Shan State Progress Party announced that it and it's armed forces, the Shan State Army, would join revolutionary forces, and that a political solution to the conflict was "impossible". Later, on 5 May, the vice-chairperson retracted his statement, stating the decision to declare war on the junta was not made.[352]

Junta counteroffensive in Sagaing Region

Tatmadaw forces recaptured the district capital of

Kalay Township in an campaign to resist anti-junta attacks on Kalay.[357] Despite the campaign, on 16 March resistance forces captured the Pyusawhti-controlled village of Kyaung Taik north of Kalay.[358]

While the junta launched its counteroffensives, allied resistance launched an offensive to capture Kani, capturing around 80% of the town by 7 March.[359] After almost 10 days of fighting, by 15 March, rebels were forced to give up their efforts to capture the town after overwhelming junta resistance.[360]

On 19 April, junta forces launched a counteroffensive to retake Shwe Pyi Aye, Homalin Township, after it was captured in November 2023.[361]

According to data by Radio Free Asia, junta troops arrested and killed 89 civilians in nine Sagaing townships during the first quarter of 2024.[362]

Kachin conflict escalates

While the

Mongmit on 19 January and neighboring Mabein on the 20th. The next day, 21 February, the KIA captured the strategically significant Man Wein Gyi base, on the route from Ruili, China, to Namkham.[363] 3 days later, the KIA captured Nam Hpat Kar village after a month of fighting. On 25 January, Mongmit was recaptured by junta forces. Starting in late January, the KIA began intensifying attacks on Hpakant Township.[364] On 20 January, the KIA captured a military camp southwest of Hpakant.[365] On 2 February, the KIA and PDF forces captured the Namtein outpost, threatening the road connecting Hpakant to the regional capital, Myitkyina.[366] Also on that day, Kachin forces captured Ba Laung Dein Sar, Mansi Township. On 16 February, the KIA began attacking the Si Kham Gyi base, which has continually been held by the junta for 30 years. It was captured 4 days later.[363] After 3 days of attacks, the KIA captured three hilltop bases in Mansi Township on 4 March.[367]

Operation 0307
China-Myanmar border gate in Laiza
, 2015

On 7 March, the KIA simultaneously launched attacks on over ten junta outposts in eastern Kachin. Fighting primarily took place along the highway between Bhamo and the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, as well as around Laiza. The attacks are reportedly the beginning of a wider offensive in Kachin State, which some has called "Operation 0307" (after the day it began).[368] Over 8 March, the KIA seized three major junta bases and several outposts, including Hpyun Pyen Bum, a junta's closest forward base to Laiza.[369] The KIA and AA continued defending their headquarters and they allege that junta airstrikes had landed on the Chinese side of the border, east of Laiza.[370] During the fighting, a Lisu junta-aligned Lisu National Development Party militia leader was killed in Aung Myay Thit village.[24] A week after the start of the offensive, Dawthponeyan subtownship was captured the KIA.[371] By 22 March, the KIA claimed to have captured over 50 military outposts and 13 strategically significant junta bases around the Myitkyina-Bhamo Road, including: all outposts surrounding Laiza, battalion headquarters in five townships, and camps near the KIA's old headquarters of Pajau.[372]

On 28 March, KIA seized two junta bases in Yaw Yone and Nga Gayan near Lweje on the Chinese border in Momauk Township.[373] By 1 April, the KIA had captured the entirety of the Bhamo-Lweje road.[374] On 11 April, Namtyar village was captured by the KIA along the Hpakant-Kamaing road, cutting off one of the major roads to Hpakant.[375] On 24 April, after weeks of attacks, the KIA captured Sezin, cutting off all major roads to Hpakant and completely encircling the town.[376] After capturing the town's police station over a month earlier, the KIA captured Sinbo on 29 April, cutting off the Bhamo-Myitkyina road and encircling Bhamo.[377] On 4 May, the KIA launched simultaneous offensives on junta positions in several areas throughout Waingmaw Township, capturing several junta bases. Between 4-5 May, the KIA captured the Sumprabum Tactical Command Center and several junta camps around Sumprabum.[378] By 8 May, the entirety of Sumprabum and its surrounding township was captured.[379] The same day, the KIA announced that it had captured over 80 junta outposts, including 11 battalion headquarters, since the start of the offensive.[371] On 9 May, the KIA reported that junta soldiers had withdrew from Momauk, and that they had captured both Momauk and neighboring Mansi's police stations.[380][381] The same day, the KIA launched an attack on the Balaminhtin Bridge at the entrance to Myitkyina.[382] By 13 May, the KIA claimed to have captured half of Mansi.[383] On 16 May, the KIA captured the Nam Byu base southwest of Tanai.[384] On 18 May, the KIA launched an offensive in Waingmaw Township, capturing almost a dozen junta bases by 20 May.[385] The next day, KIA forces captured the junta base controlling the entrance to Waingmaw.[386]

Junta control of Karen weakens

Karen State

After Operation 1027 and the

Kyaikdon.[394] On 19 March, the first reported clash in KNLA 7th Brigade controlled territory since the coup occurred near Methawaw after junta soldiers invaded the area under the pretext of repairing a road. Junta forces were forced to retreat.[395]

Tensions rose between the junta and the Karen State

Hpa-An to meet with Karen BGF leader Colonel Saw Chit Thu after the latter refused to come to the capital Naypyidaw and meet the junta.[397] The Karen BGF announced they would no longer accept salaries from the junta, and would remain "neutral" in the conflict. Later, on 6 March, the Karen BGF announced it would rename itself to the "Karen National Army" later in the month.[398]

Capture of Papun and Battle for Myawaddy
Smoke rising from Myawaddy, April 2024
Civilians fleeing to Thailand during the siege of Myawaddy, 2024
Thai-Myanmar friendship bridge from Mae Sot, Thailand

On 20 March, the KNLA and its PDF allies began to besiege the town of Papun, the capital of Hpapun District. Eight days later, the town was captured, with fighting moving to the hills outside the town.[19]

After a prolonged siege and several days of negotiations, on 5 April over 600 junta soldiers and their families stationed in Myawaddy agreed to surrender to the KNU and withdrew across the border to Mae Sot,[399] leaving only the 275th Light Infantry Battalion (LIB), positioned near the town's western entrance, to defend the town. KNLA and PDF troops were seen at the Thai–Myanmar Friendship Bridge border crossing in northeastern Myawaddy on the morning of the 9 April.[400] Later that afternoon, the KNLA and PDF launched a heavy assault on the LIB 275th base.[401] Fighting ended late the next day, when the KNLA and PDF captured the LIB 275th base, forcing over 200 junta soldiers to withdraw under the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge on the border. In response, Thailand deployed the 3rd Army along the border.[402] The junta began sending reinforcements in a counteroffensive to retake the town, but were stalled in Kyondoe.[403][404] On 12 April, Thai officials and the KNU spokesperson confirmed the capture of Myawaddy, with the KNU stating it was preparing to establish its own administration in the town.[405] The junta retaliated with airstrikes despite locals stating that the KNLA were not in the streets of the town.[406]

Despite the KNLA's major role in capturing Myawaddy, the KNLA and PDF groups ceded the city's control to the

Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA-5) to ensure security within the city.[407] According to the KNU/KNLA-PC, the KNA was playing a major role in negotiations between the KNU and the junta regarding Myawaddy.[408]

After Myawaddy's capture, the Light Infantry Division (LID) 55, numbering around 1,000 and reportedly led by the junta

After being trapped in Kawkareik Township for several weeks due to resistance ambushes and attacks, the 1,000 men reinforcements sent by the junta to aid forces in Myawaddy in Operation Aung Zeya began advancing through the Dawna Range, reaching the Taw Naw waterfall by 29 April.[418]

Mon and Karenni resistance

Myanmar Air Force bombed a church in Kayah State, May 2024
Burning houses in Kyomaro Township, Mon State

After Operation 1027, Karenni resistance continued with

Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) captured the town of Mawchi.[419] On 14 February, combined forces of the Karenni Army (KA) and KNDF captured the town of Shadaw after almost a month-long battle. This capture made Shadaw Township the second Kayah township completely captured by Karenni forces, after Mese.[420] By 5 March, Karenni forces captured the Hpasawng Bridge. After this capture, junta jets attacked a monastery in the town, killing five and wounding 20 internally displaced people (IDP).[421] Later, on 14 March, Karenni forces captured the rest of Hpasawng and most of Hpasawng Township.[422] In a joint statement on 23 March, the KNDF and allies announced that they were in control of nearly 90% of Kayah State. They further stated that they had captured 65 junta positions throughout the state, and six out of nine towns in Kayah[p] (excluding Moebye in Southern Shan State).[51] On 10 April, the Karenni National Solidarity Organisation (KNSO), a "people's militia force" under the junta, declared war on the junta and joined resistance groups after an over 20-year ceasefire.[423] On 4 May, Karenni forces launched an offensive on the last remaining junta forces in Hpasawng Township, killing 20 junta soldiers.[424]

On 20 January, local resistance forces in Ye Township began intensifying attacks around the township, announcing their intent to capture Ye.[425] On 14 February 2024, the Mon National Liberation Army (Anti-Military Dictatorship) (MNLA-AMD) split from the Mon National Liberation Army (a signatory of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement) and effectively declared war on the junta.[426] The splinter group's leadership, made up of senior MNLA officials, stated that they would only be active in areas the MNLA was not[427] and intended to unite with local resistance forces.[428] Around 22 March, several Mon State-based resistance groups, began vehicle inspections along the road stretching from the Malwe Mountain to Kaleinaung, prompting junta forces to close the road.[429] On 25 March, the MNLA-AMD, alongside the KNLA and several allies, captured the Kawt Bein Police Station in Kawkareik Township, Karen State.[430] In response, junta forces shelled Kawt Bein and surrounding settlements.[431] 2 days later, Mon resistance captured nearby Dhamma Tha village.[415]

On 8 April, Mon PDF forces launched drone attacks on the Southeastern Command headquarters in Mawlamyine while Soe Win, deputy commander-in-chief of the junta, was in the building. Whether Soe Win was affected remains unknown.[432] On 19 April, the MNLA-AMD began launching attacks on a junta convoy in Kyaikmaraw Township heading towards Myawaddy to recapture the city from anti-junta forces.[433] On 25 April, after a day long battle involving around 300 junta troops, junta forces recaptured the town of Kawt Bein and Dhamma Tha from Mon resistance.[434] On 20 May, the Mon State Defense Force and the Mon State Revolutionary Force began militarily cooperating.[435]

Drone attack on Naypyidaw

On 4 April 2024, the People's Defense Force launched an unprecedented drone attack against Aye Lar airbase, the main Tatmadaw headquarters, and Min Aung Hlaing's residence in the capital, Naypyidaw. Almost 30 drones were deployed; junta forces claimed 7 were shot down.[436][437] Myawaddy TV said 13 fixed-wing drones were shot down and there were no casualties or damage to property. NUG claimed the attack was "a success".[438] On 12 April, local People's Defense Forces claimed that they killed over a dozen junta soldiers in another attack on Aye Lar Airbase.[439]

Humanitarian impact and war crimes

A hospital in Shan State was bombed by Myanmar Air Force, May 2024

The human rights situation in Myanmar has deteriorated substantially since the beginning of the civil conflict. The Burmese military has escalated its use of war crimes, including murder, mass killings, sexual violence, torture, arbitrary detention, attacks on religious buildings, and the targeting of civilians.[440][441][442][443] The junta has also seized the properties of political opponents as part of an intimidation strategy, impacting hundreds of families.[444] BBC News reports that the pro-junta paramilitary Pyusawhti militias have been accused of more than one atrocity against civilians.[47]

Since the onset of the civil conflict, both the Burmese military and resistance forces alike have used educational facilities as bases and detention sites.[445] In 2021, over 190 violent attacks on schools were reported in 13 of Myanmar's states and regions.[445] As of June 2022, 7.8 million children remained out of school.[446]

Myanmar's public health system has effectively collapsed,[447] and the civil war has worsened the country's food security crisis, with one in four people experiencing food insecurity.[448] Poverty and food insecurity have disproportionately affected Myanmar's Dry Zone and the Irrawaddy delta regions, which account for over 80% of the country's agricultural area and are home to a third of the country's population.[449]

As of September 2022, 1.3 million people had been internally displaced, and over 13,000 children had been killed.[440][42] By March 2023, the UN estimated that since the coup, 17.6 million people in Myanmar required humanitarian assistance, while 1.6 million were internally displaced, and 55,000 civilian buildings had been destroyed.[450]

In March 2023,

food insecurity.[451]

In March 2024, Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, stated that 18.6 million people were in need of humanitarian aid.[452]

Economic impact

Economic conditions in Myanmar have substantially worsened due to the ongoing war and to economic mismanagement by the SAC.

brain drain and mirroring the civilian exodus that followed the 1962 and 1988 military coups.[42][457] The local job market has collapsed.[457]

In September 2022, the G7-led Financial Action Task Force announced plans to blacklist Myanmar for failing to stem money laundering and terrorist financing.[458] At that time, only Iran and North Korea were on the Financial Action Task Force blacklist.[458] In October 2022, Myanmar was blacklisted by the task force, which increased volatility in the value of the Burmese kyat.[459]

The war disrupted transport and stunted the export of agricultural goods like rice and corn, and the illegal cultivation of poppy became an economic pillar for many Burmese. Myanmar became the world’s biggest opium producer, producing about 1,080 metric tons in 2023.[460]

During the war, there has been a "mass refusal" among Myanmar's people to pay taxes and other charges to the junta, leading to a 33% drop in state revenue according to an analysis by the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M). According to the SAC-M, "69% of businesses reported not paying tax to the junta in the first three months of 2022". The cessation of payments of electricity bills by large portions of the population has also significantly cut off the junta's revenue sources.[461]

Hyperinflation

By September 2022, the value of the

Woodside Petroleum have exited the Burmese market as the conflict has intensified.[466]

At the end of July 2023, the SAC announced that it would issue a limited number of new 20,000 kyat banknotes. The announcement led to an increase in the price of gold, as well as in foreign currency exchange rates.[467] In March 2024, it was reported that the civil war had significantly increased prices of every day goods, such as rice (160–220%), fuel (520%), and palm oil (75%) from pre-war levels. Also, the US dollar to Kyat exchange rate had increased by 160%.[468]

In April 2024, the price of gold was around 4.5 million kyat per kyattha (a Burmese unit of mass) compared to 1 million per kyattha in February 2021. The SAC regularly accuses goldsmiths of price manipulation when gold prices rise. An arrest of five traders and closure of seven shops, caused the price to drop in early April 2024 as traders were fearful of doing business.[469] By May 2024, the U.S. dollar to kyat exchange rate had increased from 1300 before the coup to 4100 on the black market, with the junta reportedly abandoning the fixed exchange rate of 2100.[470]

Interim Central Bank (ICB)

The

Naypitaw.[471] It was also reported that the ICB seized 44 billion Kyats from other banks.[472] Radio Free Asia explained in regards to Central Banks raising funds for their government; "The NUG has acknowledged raising over $150 million since the coup" and that while "it dwarfs in comparison to the revenue of the junta, which gave itself a raise of 51 percent in FY2023 to $2.7 billion—it's not insignificant either."[473]

Under the direction of the ICB there is a newly established for-profit bank called Spring Development Bank, with an intent to establish its own cryptocurrency.[473]

Environmental impact

The deterioration in law and order in many parts of Myanmar has caused "a surge in illegal mining activities" in rural parts of the country. Environmental activists in Myanmar have accused the junta of supporting illegal mining of rare-earth elements which have "devastating and unpredictable consequences for the region’s ecosystem and inhabitants". Rivers have been contaminated, causing the destruction of local ecosystems, decreasing community access to clean water and disrupting agricultural activities of local farmers. The junta has cracked down on environmental activists who have criticized the government.[474] The conflict has also seen a significant rise in deforestation in Myanmar.[475]

Manpower and procurement

Tatmadaw and allies

A February 2022 report by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews stated that China, Russia, India, Belarus, Ukraine, Israel, Serbia, Pakistan and South Korea were selling the weapons to the junta.[476] The Karen National Union documented the use of North Korean weaponry by the junta in November 2023.[477]

Anti-junta forces have claimed that the Tatmadaw has severely struggled with recruitment and morale.[44] Desertion is a growing problem.

On 31 January 2023, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a directive enabling organisations and citizens deemed "loyal to the state," including civilians, civil servants, and army personnel, to obtain firearms licenses.[478] The regulatory shift has enabled the military junta to arm pro-junta Pyusawhti militias and to suppress pro-democracy forces in light of waning military recruitment and their challenges with concurrently operating in multiple war theatres throughout the country.[479][480] On 12 February 2023, a leaked document purportedly from the Ministry of Home Affairs detailed the junta issuing firearms licenses to pro-regime civilians for the operation of counter-insurgency paramilitaries based on the new firearm licensing directive.[481]

Junta-aligned Pyusawhti militias have reportedly used force to recruit local men, but have been less than effective in building up grassroots enforcement on behalf of the junta, and have "taken root only in the small number of communities where the military's own party is traditionally strong."[47]

One man contacted by the BBC in the area where Wathawa has been mobilising since early 2022 said he had only been able to recruit a maximum of 10–15 men in each village, and then only by threatening to burn down their homes.

He said many of the recruits had run away, and were being helped by other villagers to hide from Wathawa and his gun-toting monks.[47]

In early December 2023, the Tatmadaw-led government appealed for

National Unity Government claims some 20,000 soldiers had deserted and joined its ranks.[482] By 7 December, the junta began freeing soldiers who had been jailed for desertion to ease apparent manpower shortages as a result of battlefield pressures from recent operations.[483]

On 10 February 2024, the Tatmadaw announced the People's Military Service Law, requring all men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 to complete up to two years of mandatory military service, amid its territorial losses. Those who fail to enlist face imprisonment for up to five years during a national emergency.[484] This announcement has been interpreted by some as a sign of increasing desperation in the face of steadily advancing resistance forces.[485] In the wake of the announcement, Deutsche Welle also reported that "thousands" of young people were fleeing across the border to Thailand to evade conscription before it came into effect.[486] Local Myanmar government officials are reportedly extorting bribes from those seeking to avoid being conscripted.[487] 21 administrators in Rakhine's Thandwe announced their resignation in response to the military recruitment.[488] Rebel groups killed at least 37 local officials carrying out the junta's conscription efforts.[489]

Activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi thought the military’s historic "indoctrination techniques are deeply rooted in nationalism and religious ideologies" leaving "soldiers and their families feeling disoriented amidst shifting societal paradigms".[490]

Anti-junta forces

The limited possession of guns by ethnic insurgent movements along with the lack of international support and formal means of acquiring military material has presented the anti-junta forces with a challenging situation for the confrontation of the military regime. Faced with this difficulty since the early stages of armed insurgency, the resistance movement sought ways to manufacture the necessary weapons and equipment for the conflict. Initially, the rebels expanded the production of a traditionally made,

landmines and bomb drones, to be manufactured within the technological and material means of liberated territories and underground cells.[492][493][494]

Commercially available drones rigged to carry bombs were used to attack military positions. PDF groups reportedly produced naval bombs to target government logistics in rivers. Meanwhile, defected soldiers developed 60 mm long-range mortars. The use of 3D printing was also reported, both to salvage weapons taken from the junta and for the improvised production of semiautomatic carbines.[492][495] An arms trafficker in possession of nuclear materials was found working with an unnamed insurgent ethnic armed group in Myanmar.[477] The success of Operation 1027 enabled the Brotherhood Alliance to seize enormous caches of arms and ammunition from the Tatmadaw, making it better equipped than before it launched Operation 1027.[496]

Foreign involvement

NUG's UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun talks in an interview in 2022

In June 2021, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution asking member states to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar.[497] Two hundred international organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have continued to press the UN and its member states to adopt a global arms embargo.[498][499] The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union have, in response to the ongoing violence, sanctioned individuals and organisations associated with the Burmese military.[500][501] However, the effectiveness of these sanctions has been undermined by poor coordination among governments and the lack of sanctions against high-impact targets.[501]

Myanmar absent at the US-ASEAN Summit 2022 in Washington, D.C

ASEAN blocked Myanmar from participating in regional summits after the 2021 coup.[502] but this was reversed after New Zealand invited the junta to two ASEAN summits hosted in Wellington in April 2024.[503] ASEAN member states have not taken a consistent, coordinated approach with respect to the ongoing civil war, due to internal divisions. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore are strongly opposed to the military junta,[504][505] but Thailand was a key ally of the junta until the election of Srettha Thavisin as prime minister.[506][507]

India, which represents Myanmar's fourth-largest export market and fifth-largest import partner, has continued a business-as-usual approach to cross-border relations and continues to recognize the military junta.[508] State-owned and private Indian companies supply arms and raw materials to the junta.[509] On the other hand, India has hostile relations with China, which a part may have contributed to India's ongoing support for the junta as a balance attempt to prevent Chinese encroachment, which is met with criticism.[510][511][512]

Bangladesh recognizes the military junta, but does not support its actions, in part because the Rohingya genocide has led to around 1 million Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh.[513] Its position in the conflict has been informed by repeated spillover of the conflict into its territory.[514]

As of December 2023, East Timor remains the only government to have openly expressed sympathies to the anti-regime forces in Myanmar.[515] In August 2023, the State Administration Council expelled the East Timorese ambassador in retaliation for the East Timorese government meeting with the NUG.[516]

In 2023, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Myanmar's Foreign Minister Than Swe jointly meet the press after the eighth LMC Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Since the coup d'état,

anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar.[519][520] However, the fact that the Three Brotherhood Alliance's Operation 1027 in late 2023 was carried out near the China–Myanmar border may indicate a shift in China's stance,[521] which was attributed by analysts to concerns about cyber-scam centers, the pursuit of favorable concessions from the junta on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, and the opportunity to influence the PDF in light of evolving dynamics between NUG and EAO groups.[522]

Min Aung Hlaing meets Head Rais Rustam Minnikhanov of Tatarstan in Russia, June 2021.

Russia has embraced deeper ties with the Burmese military junta as the civil war has progressed. Russia has provided materiel, military training for over 50 Myanmar Air Force pilots, and diplomatic backing to the regime.[523] Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia several times, personally meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in September 2022. The military junta backed the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[502] Russia was among the few countries[q] to send a congratulatory message to the junta on Myanmar's Independence Day.[524] In March 2024, Tom Andrews saw Russia still being the number one source of weapons for the junta.[452]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Hundreds of anti-SAC local defence forces are strewn across the country, which operate unconventionally, carrying out hit-and-run attacks, targeted killings, ambushes, remote bombings and a small number of rocket attacks.[7]
  2. ^ a b India-based
  3. ^ Despite having issued a public statement of support for anti-junta resistance in April 2021, the ZRA has been supplied by and worked alongside the junta to attack resistance[10][11]
  4. ^ De facto operating under the name "Wuyang People's Militia".[12]
  5. Rohingya militia, several India-based insurgent
    groups, smaller aligned ethnic armed organisations, and local militias
  6. , smaller local groups
  7. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, KNU/KNLA Peace Council, Arakan Army (Kayin State), local PDF's, smaller resistance groups. (Includes the neutral Karen National Army
    )
  8. ^ Karenni Nationalities Defence Force, Karenni Army, Karenni National People's Liberation Front, local PDF's, smaller resistance groups
  9. Zomi
    allied groups, local PDF's, smaller resistance groups
  10. ^
    Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and Restoration Council of Shan State
    (RCSS) use the name "Shan State Army" for their armed forces, so both are distinguished by the addition of their respective political organisations or the addition North/South at the end
  11. ^ Includes territory controlled by the Mon National Liberation Army (Anti-Dictatorship)
  12. ^
  13. ^ Killed in Kachin State's Waingmaw Township by the Kachin Independence Army as the Lisu Ethnic Militia leader.[24]
  14. ^ Burmese: ၂၀၂၁-လက်ရှိ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ ပြည်သူ့ခုခံတွန်းလှန်စစ်; MLCTS: 2021 – lakhri. mranmanuing.ngan pranysu.hku.hkamtwan:hlancac, Burmese pronunciation: [n̥ə.'tʰa̼ʊn.n̥ə.sʰɛ̼.θɪʔ 'lɐʔ.ʃi̼ mjàm.mà.nàɪŋ.ŋàɴ 'pjì.θu̼ 'kʰu̼.kʰàɰ̃ 'tʊ́ːɰ̃.ɫàɰ̃.sɪʔ]
  15. ^ The ZRA has also clashed with the Chin National Army (CNA) several times since 2021
  16. ^ Mese (captured in June 2023), Demoso, Ywarthit, Shadaw, Mawchi, Nan Mae Khon.
  17. ^ Belarus, Cambodia, North Korea, Russia, and Syria sent congratulatory messages to the State Administration Council for Myanmar's Independence Day on 4 January, 2024.

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