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Myanmar military poised to launch campaign against People's Defence Forces

Myanmar's armed forces (Tatmadaw) are poised to launch a multipronged counter-insurgency campaign in the country's west aimed at crushing an upsurge in resistance to the State Administration Council (SAC) regime installed following the February coup.

After a steady build-up of forces that has involved army, air force, and riverine naval assets, the campaign will coincide with the end of the monsoon season in October and mark the Tatmadaw's first combined-arms offensive against concentrations of opposition People's Defence Forces (PDFs) that have proliferated across Myanmar since April in response to military suppression of civilian protests.

Military preparations reported since September suggest the impending campaign, which is likely to last at least several weeks, will focus primarily on three key zones in western Myanmar where larger PDFs, increasingly armed with automatic weapons and relying heavily on roadside improvised explosive devices, have become notably more assertive. Almost daily ambushes of troop movements in August and September have reportedly inflicted several hundred casualties.

The largest zone comprises townships situated across a wide swath of farm country both north and south of the Chindwin River in south Sagaing Region. Since September naval landing craft have been moving armoured vehicles and reinforcements from mechanised infantry battalions up the Chindwin from Monywa town into this theatre.

A second focus of concern centres on the townships of Pinlebu, Wuntho, and Kawlin further north in Sagaing close to Kachin State where the insurgent Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has provided training and light weaponry to PDFs from Myanmar's ethnic Bamar majority. On several occasions in September aggressive PDF activity in the Pinlebu area required the Tatmadaw to respond with air strikes.

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