Myanmar Junta Airstrikes Displace Thousands in Sagaing

By The Irrawaddy 24 February 2023

The Myanmar military conducted airstrikes this week during days of fierce fighting with resistance forces in Ayadaw Township, Sagaing Region, displacing thousands of civilians from ten villages.

The clashes follow the junta’s imposition of martial law in Sagaing’s Ayadaw, Shwebo and Wetlet townships earlier this week.

Fighting broke out on Tuesday, when a column of around 100 military regime soldiers advanced to Nwarmatwin and Minywar villages in the south of Ayadaw Township and were ambushed by a combined force of People’s Defense Forces (PDF). Both sides are thought to have suffered casualties, but none have been confirmed so far.

On Wednesday evening, a junta MI-35 helicopter launched airstrikes at Minywar Village, destroying around 50 houses.

“The military helicopter opened fire continuously while we were preparing to attack the troops in Minywar Village. We were only able to shoot back at long-range,” said Ko Tay Zar, a spokesperson for resistance group Moe Nyo Revolution Force.

More airstrikes were launched on Thursday, when a MI-35 helicopter opened fire while two MI-17 helicopters dropped regime soldiers in Malaethar Village, around three miles from Minywar Village, said local resistance group Danger Force.

The PDFs were able to rescue residents trapped in Malaethar Village on Thursday night.

“The fighting continued this [Friday] morning. The military is using guerrilla tactics. The battle may become more intense,” said Ko Man Hone, the spokesperson for Danger Force.

Malaethar Village was previously raided by junta forces last year. Around 150 of the village’s more than 1000 homes have now been destroyed.

Ayadaw is one of the strongholds of the resistance in Sagaing Region, along with the neighboring townships of Budalin, Monywa and Myinmu. PDFs from those townships took part in the clashes in Ayadaw this week.