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Military clashes in Sudan threaten to become protracted conflict following attempted coup by Rapid Support Forces

Key points

  • Event: On 15 April 2023, fighting erupted in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)
  • Significance: Since January 2023, Janes Military Coup Indicator has ranked Sudan among the top three states most likely to experience a military coup. However, the preceding fragmentation and current conflict between the RSF and the SAF differ significantly from previous coups and greatly increase the likelihood that Sudan will fall into a prolonged internal conflict
  • Outlook: It is likely that the SAF and the RSF will continue to clash in Khartoum and across the country over the coming days. As the conflict continues and as international pressure grows, the likelihood that the SAF and the RSF will agree to a ceasefire or armistice increases. The SAF's capability advantage in terms of weaponry and personnel means any eventual ceasefire agreement would likely be dictated by the SAF upon the RSF


In the early hours of 15 April 2023, fighting erupted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), under the leadership of Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (alias Hemedti).

Local media and social media sources reported heavy gunfire and explosions across multiple locations in Khartoum on 15 April. That same day, the RSF released a statement claiming to control strategic locations including the Presidential Palace, Khartoum International Airport, and the state broadcaster. The SAF denied these claims. At the time of publication, it is unclear who is in control of strategic locations across the capital as fighting continues and large parts of the city remain contested.

Key areas of conflict between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces, 15–17 April 2023. (Janes)

Sudan: Political risk ratings. (Janes)

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