War Against the Junta

Around 20 Myanmar Regime Soldiers Reportedly Killed in Sagaing Region

By Hein Htoo Zan 6 February 2023

At least 20 Myanmar junta troops were reportedly killed in fierce clashes with resistance forces in the northwest of Sagaing Region from February 1 to February 4. The fighting forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

The clashes broke out in Shwe Pyi Aye Town in Sagaing’s Homalin Township after a combined force of People’s Defense Forces (PDF) from Homalin attacked the town around 6am on February 1. The PDFs included Khamti District Battalion 1, Homalin-PDF Battalion 124 and Homalin-PDF-Moekyoe.

After the resistance groups took control of Shwe Pyi Aye, the military regime launched five airstrikes on the town on February 1 and 3. Junta MI-35 helicopter gunships attacked on February 1, before launching two more airstrikes with MI-35s on February 3. The regime also attempted to drop reinforcements using MI-17 choppers.

A statement by the civilian National Unity Government said that an MI-17 helicopter was shot down by the resistance on February 3, but offered no further details.

Khamti District Battalion 1 and Homalin-PDF’s Battalion 124 said that at least 20 junta troops were killed in the fighting, while the resistance suffered two dead.

“Resistance groups are still in partial control of the town. But we also heard that junta troops are now approaching the town from different directions. I don’t know what will happen next,” said a male Shwe Pyi Aye resident who is now sheltering with his family in Homalin Town.

Battalion 124 of Homalin-PDF said that pro-junta Shanni Nationalities Army troops were fighting alongside the Myanmar military against the PDFs.

Two fighters from Battalion 124 – Hpone Gyi, 27, and Naing Lu – were killed in the fighting on February 2 and 3 respectively, according to Homalin-PDF.

Some 2,000 residents of Shwe Pyi Aye have fled to nearby villages and towns. Resistance groups have warned residents to be cautious of possible future airstrikes and attacks by junta forces.

“We are trying our best to welcome and give accommodation to the people who fled Shwe Pyi Aye Town. But we don’t have sufficient food for them. And they dare not return home, even though there has been no fighting since February 4,” said a member of the civilian Homalin Township People’s Administration Body.

Shwe Pyi Aye is a new town founded by General Tha Aye, a member of the previous regime’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and a former Chief Minister of Sagaing Region, during the SPDC regime’s time in power between 1997 and 2011.