War Against the Junta

Myanmar Junta Invasion Force Under Siege: Ta'ang Army

By The Irrawaddy 8 December 2022

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has besieged Myanmar junta troops in Namhsan Township, northern Shan State, as fighting escalates, according to observers.

In a surprise attack, approximately 200 junta troops were airlifted by helicopter to Kone Thar, Humen and Pein Lone villages in northwest Namhsan on Wednesday afternoon.

TNLA troops repulsed the attacks and reinforcements besieged the junta soldiers, according to a Namhsan resident.

TNLA spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tar Aik Kyaw said junta jets and helicopters dropped bombs on Thursday during a second day of fighting.

He denied that the junta had attacked a TNLA base.

“Five military helicopters airlifted in troops and fighting continued into the next morning. Helicopters attacked twice on Wednesday. They fired many mortars from two bases. Some Kone Thar houses burned down. I don’t know about casualties,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Another Namhsan resident said around 100 civilians were trapped in the three villages where the regime is attempting to establish a base.

The TNLA reportedly killed at least 20 junta soldiers who landed where rebel soldiers were waiting. The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the reports.

The regime last month seized arms and ammunition in TNLA territory in northern Shan. The regime claimed the weapons were heading to the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State or resistance groups in Sagaing Region, according to analysts.

Two TNLA officers were also detained in Lashio, Shan State, last month, although it was not announced by the regime. The junta reportedly suspected they were involved in arms smuggling to resistance groups or the AA.

A military analyst said this week’s offensive might be an attempt to punish the TNLA for gunrunning.

“But the TNLA has refused to attend junta peace talks and there are rumors the Three Brotherhood Alliance is planning to attack the regime. So maybe it was a preemptive attack,” the observer said.

The alliance includes the TNLA, AA and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The AA in late November agreed a temporary ceasefire with the regime. The MNDAA is fighting the regime in northern Shan State.

The TNLA was originally founded as the Palaung State Liberation Organization (PSLO), which signed a ceasefire with the State Law and Order Restoration Council regime in 1991.

Some PSLO leaders opposed the ceasefire and founded the Palaung State Liberation Front in 1992 which became the TNLA in 2011.

The TNLA says it has more than 8,000 troops. It holds land west of the Salween River to the Shweli River and along the road from Muse to Kyaukme, Hsipaw and Mongkok, according to observers.