Analysis

Why Myanmar's Dry Months Will See More Fighting and Regime Atrocities

By Nayt Thit ​​​​​​ 5 November 2022

Fighting in Myanmar is expected to intensify as the dry season starts and operations become easier, although it will also enable the easier deployment of junta airpower, according to defectors.

The civilian National Unity Government (NUG) on October 7 urged all resistance forces to make the next 12 months decisive in the war against the regime.

However, regime atrocities are set to increase.

Regime forces repeatedly commit arson attacks, massacres, airstrikes and bombardments on resistance forces and civilian targets, including an airstrike on an outdoor concert in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, last month.

Sezin village in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, on August 9 a junta airstrike and arson attack. / CJ

Junta arson attacks constitute a crime against humanity. In October more than 1,550 houses and other civilian structures were burned down, said the NUG’s Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, heavy battles were initiated by residents forces across the country.

A heavy clash broke out in Karen State on October 21 when the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and its resistance allies raided junta bases and police stations in Kawkareik town. The junta responded with shelling and airstrikes.

Around 10 days of fighting took place between the junta and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) with allied resistance groups in Momauk Township in late October when the regime used troops and airpower to attempt an occupation of Lung Ja Bum hill held by the KIA. The junta suffered at least 80 casualties.

Padoh Saw Taw Nee, head of Karen National Union’s external affairs, said the dry season would favor anti-regime forces.

“Many separate groups are operating, seeing the regime as the common enemy. Our revolution will definitely develop during the dry season but it is too early to say when it will achieve victory,” he told The Irrawaddy.

In September, the NUG claimed that anti-regime forces have effective control over more than half the country.

The junta will use airpower during the dry season as its ground forces suffer heavy losses, former army captain Lin Htet Aung, who defected after last year’s coup, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

He advised resistance forces not to use large bases and try to keep the location of their fighters secret to minimize the effect of junta airstrikes.

Junta fighter jets. / Myanmar’s regime

Another ex-captain Zay Thu Aung, an air force pilot who defected after the coup, said resistance bases will be the main target for airstrikes.

“As ground offensives have failed, they are now dependent on airpower,” he added.

In Kayah State, the regime conducted 171 airstrikes between February and October compared with two airstrikes last year, according to the Progressive Karenni People’s Force that monitors regime atrocities.

The group said battles between anti-regime forces and the junta nearly doubled. In 2021 132 firefights were reported with 375 this year.

Ko Nway Oo, a founder of the Civil Defense and Security Organization of Myaung in Sagaing, said junta air raids had increased as attacks by ground troops had decreased since the rainy season ended.

He added that resistance forces have no anti-aircraft weapons.

On what to expect in the coming months, Capt Lin Htet Aung said: “The junta will suffer more losses and the atrocities will increase. The people’s suffering will increase.”

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