Myanmar military loses control as ethnic minority fighters seize town amid ongoing clashes

In the wake of reports detailing a China-brokered ceasefire, local media today revealed the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) successful seizure of Namhsan, a town situated in northern...

In the wake of reports detailing a China-brokered ceasefire, local media today revealed the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) successful seizure of Namhsan, a town situated in northern Shan state. Simultaneously, intense fighting continues in Muse, a strategic border town with China, with unverified accounts suggesting that the TNLA has also taken control of the 105-Mile Trade Zone.

The Three Brotherhood Alliance, comprising the Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), launched a coordinated offensive late October, challenging the junta’s control in the region. Despite the recent announcement of a temporary ceasefire facilitated by China between the alliance and the Myanmar military, reports indicate that clashes persist in areas controlled by the TNLA and the AA.

TNLA spokesperson Brigadier-General Tar Bhone Kyaw asserted the capture of Namhsan, emphasising the town’s successful takeover following a prolonged offensive initiated more than two weeks ago. Video footage shared on Facebook showcased leaders of the TNLA in Namhsan, engaging with junta soldiers held as prisoners.

Contradicting the temporary ceasefire, Myanmar army spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun reported ongoing hostilities around Namhsan, while unconfirmed reports suggest the TNLA’s control over the 105-Mile Trade Zone, a critical trading conduit on the border with China in Muse township, Shan state.

The Three Brotherhood Alliance claims a notable series of successes, asserting the capture of 422 bases and seven towns from Myanmar’s army since the commencement of their offensive on October 27. Consequently, clashes have extended to both the east and west of the country, leading to the displacement of over half a million people, according to United Nations reports.

This comes as China steps in to mediate peace talks between the ruling military and rebel groups, with the parties reaching an agreement on a temporary ceasefire and committing to sustained dialogue, as announced by Beijing on Thursday.

The conflict, predominantly concentrated in northern Shan state, has raised concerns in neighbouring China. According to the United Nations, approximately 300,000 people have been displaced since the onset of the rebel offensive on October 27. The UN further reports that over 2 million individuals have been rendered homeless since Myanmar’s military coup in February 2021.

According to reports, Major General Zaw Min Tun, the spokesperson for the ruling military council, was quoted in the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper on Friday, stating that confrontations were occurring in the areas stretching from Namhkam township to the 105-Mile Trade Zone in Muse, approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) to its east.

Recent talks, hosted in China, saw the participation of Myanmar’s ruling military and rebel groups, although specific details were not disclosed in the Chinese foreign ministry’s statement. Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated, “China has been working tirelessly to stop the war and promote talks among the relevant parties in Myanmar, and has pushed for the de-escalation and cooling-down of the situation.” As these diplomatic efforts unfold, the international community closely watches for developments that could bring much-needed stability to the region. The Chinese statement did not specify the commencement date for the ceasefire.

Reports suggest in its daily report shared late Thursday on the Telegram messaging platform, the alliance affirmed its commitment to “pursuing the military and political objectives outlined since the initiation of Operation 1027,” the operation’s designation for the offensive. The alliance has previously declared its objective, aiming for the removal of the military regime that took control from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

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