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SAF AIRSTRIKE IN NORTH KORDOFAN LEAVES FIVE DEAD AND ATTACK ON AN ICRC CONVOY IN KHARTOUM KILLS TWO

December 7-13, 2023 | Issue 44 - CENTCOM/AFRICOM

Lucrezia Taddei, Flavie Curinier, Meaghan Mackey

Brantley Williams, Editor; Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Senior Editor


Map of Sudan[1]


Date: December 7, 2023

Location: Jabra al-Sheikh Town, North Kordofan State, Sudan

Parties involved: Military forces of the Republic of the Sudan, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF); paramilitary forces formerly operated by the Government of Sudan, Rapid Support Forces (RSF); North Kordofan civilians; Sudanese rebel group active in Darfur, Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A); internally displaced persons (IDP); Chad; Egypt; Ethiopia

The event: SAF warplanes carried out an air strike in Jabra al-Sheikh, North Kordofan, killing five people and injuring 15.[2] The air attacks coincide with ongoing fighting between the SAF and the RSF, particularly over control of El Obeid, North Kordofan's capital city. This attack is part of a series of recent air strikes in the state, which has resulted in massive population displacement. This escalation of violence creates a humanitarian crisis and threatens civilian safety.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Clashes between the SAF and the RSF will very likely intensify, as both sides likely fight over control of El Obeid and the surrounding North Kordofan state. The RSF will likely aim to gain control of El Obeid as the SAF uses military tactics to prevent the RSF from gaining ground. The SAF will likely use targeted airstrikes as a means to deter the RSF, and there is a roughly even chance that they will effectively stop the RSF's ambitions. This will likely result in the SAF needing to conduct ground operations to successfully mitigate the RSF’s advances.

  • The SAF’s targeted airstrikes will very likely worsen Sudan’s humanitarian crisis, very likely increasing the number of IDPs and limiting access to essential resources such as water, food, medical aid, and fuel. The conflict will very likely lead to an exodus of IDPs to neighboring countries such as Chad, Egypt, and Ethiopia, likely pressuring these countries to manage the influx and provide necessary humanitarian assistance. The resulting refugee movement will likely have geopolitical consequences, likely leading to increasing security concerns and diplomatic challenges in North Kordofan state.

  • The escalation by the SAF in North Kordofan will very likely compel specific regional actors, such as the RSF and the SLM/A, to reconsider their military strategies. These groups will likely perceive the increase in air power as a threat, likely prompting them to enhance their defensive capabilities, likely seeking advanced anti-aircraft systems. This tactic will likely lead to cross-border implications of the conflict in Sudan, influencing the stability and security of neighboring governments such as Chad.


Date: December 10, 2023

Location: Khartoum, Sudan

Parties involved:  Military forces of the Republic of the Sudan, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF); paramilitary forces formerly operated by the Government of Sudan, Rapid Support Forces (RSF); International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); medical humanitarian aid organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), aka Doctors Without Borders (DWB); UN; Sudanese civilians

The event: Two people were killed and seven others injured in an attack on an ICRC convoy in Khartoum. The attack was said to be deliberate as the vehicles were clearly marked with the ICRC emblem. The ICRC is in Sudan as part of a humanitarian operation that was approved by all parties of the conflict and given security assurances. This incident occurred amidst Sudan's eight-month-long civil war between the army and the RSF. The ICRC condemned the attack and suspended the evacuation operation for security reassessment.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The targeting of a marked ICRC aid convoy will likely compel humanitarian organizations, such as DWB, to implement stricter security protocols and seek enhanced protective measures, such as armed escorts or increased coordination with local security forces. This will likely necessitate a reassessment of the routes and timing of humanitarian convoys in Sudan to minimize exposure to similar threats. The event will likely prompt international bodies, like the UN, to advocate more vigorously for the enforcement of international humanitarian laws regarding the protection of medical and aid workers in conflict zones like Sudan.

  • The Sudanese government will likely strengthen its strategies to protect humanitarian organizations and mitigate the humanitarian crisis due to the cancellation of ICRC's evacuation operation. The government will likely provide specialized training to aid staff to ensure safety and effective aid delivery. The situation will likely exacerbate the humanitarian crisis, likely increasing civilian casualties and deteriorating living conditions if the SAF and RSF fail to provide necessary security assurances.


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[2] Air strike in North Kordofan claims lives, forces displacement, Sudan Tribune, December 2023,

[3] Internal Displacement in Sudan Nearly Doubles Since Onset of Conflict, IOM, September 2023, https://www.iom.int/news/internal-displacement-sudan-nearly-doubles-onset-conflict#:~:text=Most%20internally%20displaced%20persons%20

[4] Sudan war: Two people killed in attack on aid convoy in Sudan, says Red Cross, BBC, December 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-67677528

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