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Myanmar military offensives lose momentum

More than one month after Myanmar's military (Tatmadaw) launched major offensives in the west and northwest of the country, drives aimed at crushing increasingly assertive anti-regime resistance forces risk losing momentum amid widening hostilities.

The difficulty of pinning down multiple locally based resistance groups operating in small, largely autonomous units, and a need to disperse the already thin-stretched Tatmadaw assets across a dauntingly wide area of operations appear to have precluded tactical concentrations of superior forces and blunted the overall effectiveness of army operations.

Since late October at least three co-ordinated offensives involving an estimated 30,000 troops have triggered escalating clashes with the so-called People's Defence Forces (PDFs) across much of Chin State and two areas of neighbouring Sagaing Region, according to the local media.

The earliest offensive, ‘Operation Anawrahta', focused primarily on Chin State on Myanmar's western border with India where an aggressive coalition of PDFs and the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) has operated with the Chin National Army (CNA), a longstanding ethnic organisation that, after the military coup of February, abandoned its 2015 ceasefire with the Tatmadaw.

The offensive appears to have been intended primarily at pushing forces into the mountainous state to reassert control over a few key towns. However, sporadic fighting has continued even in urban areas, including the state capital of Hakha, and in late October Tatmadaw artillery barrages and reported arson saw much of Thantlang depopulated and burned.

With military movement on a limited road network liable to repeated interdiction, the rugged Chin hinterland including the CNA's Camp Victoria headquarters, a major training and logistics support hub on the Indian border, remains beyond Tatmadaw reach.

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