Myanmar Military Launches Airstrike After ‘Heavy Losses’ in Sagaing Battle

By The Irrawaddy 17 January 2023

Junta forces launched airstrikes in Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region after reportedly suffering heavy casualties during a clash with Local Defense Forces (LDFs) on Monday.

The losses occurred when a column of more than 70 junta troops patrolling in Kani Township advanced to Sarhtone village in northern Salingyi on Monday morning. It was then attacked by an alliance of LDFs and incurred heavy losses, with a regime troop captain reportedly among the casualties.

After more than two hours of battle, regime forces deployed an Mi-35 helicopter for airstrikes on positions around the village that lasted for 45 minutes.

One LDF fighter was killed in the airstrikes. He was named as Yebaw Swan Pyae Maung, aka Harvat, 19, from Salingyi Special Task Force (SSTF).

“He was hit in the neck by shrapnel from the helicopter strike and died on the spot. His funeral was held today,” SSTF spokesman Ko Phoe Zay told The Irrawaddy.

The Anti-Dictatorship People’s Revolution Army (DPRA), an ally of the SSTF, said the junta troops then retreated to Salingyi Township under air cover provided by the helicopter.

“The helicopter flew over the troops as they made their way back to Salingyi,” said Ko Phoe Zay.

“We heard that barely more than 40 of the 70 soldiers returned to the Salingyi Township base camp,” he added.

The Irrawaddy was unable to independently verify his claim.

On Saturday, the DPRA and allied forces attacked the Salingyi police station, where the regime soldiers were stationed, with 60mm heavy weapons.

Thousands of civilians in and around 10 Salingyi villages, including Sarhtone, have been displaced by fighting in recent weeks.

Sagaing is a stronghold of the anti-regime resistance in Myanmar. The junta has launched a massive offensive in the region, including frequent airstrikes. Nearly 1.5 million residents have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the offensive, according to the UN office for humanitarian affairs.