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Airstrikes across Nyala, South Darfur

Updated: Feb 16

لقراءة المقال بالعربية

Airstrikes across Nyala, South Darfur_غارات جوية على مدينة نيالا، جنوب دارفور (2)
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Nyala, South Darfur


Figure 1: Location of Nyala, South Darfur

Summary: 

  • Sudan Witness verified two incidents of damage and ground disturbance in Nyala, South Darfur between 28 and 30 December 2023. 

  • Sudan Witness observed at least 12 casualties in footage depicting the two incidents.

  • It is likely that this damage was caused by airstrikes. Sudan Tribune and Sudan War Monitor reported that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) launched a series of airstrikes across Nyala on 29 December, allegedly resulting in at least 118 civilian deaths and injuries.


Nyala is the capital of South Darfur state, south-west Sudan. When fighting broke out in Sudan in April 2023, the east of Nyala was captured by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leading thousands of people to flee the city. In late October 2023, the RSF seized full control of Nyala, with the ensuing violence and destruction leading at least 670,000 people to leave the city. 


On 29 December 2023, Saving Al Geneina Initiative  posted a video to X (formerly Twitter) which showed civilians in the street with clouds of dust and smoke visible in the background, and featured audible gunshots and explosions. The video’s description stated that there were airstrikes in multiple locations in Nyala and that the footage was captured north of the ‘Friday Market’.  Sudan Witness geolocated the video to a location in a northern neighbourhood of Nyala, south of the Nyala North Court House near Nyala’s Friday market (figure 2). The video was filmed on 29 December 2023, which Sudan Witness confirmed by cross-referencing the shadows in the videos using SunCalc


Figure 2: Satellite imagery showing geolocated footage of civilians filming airstrike impact in the north of Nyala, South Darfur, on 29 December 2023. Source: Google Earth, X (formerly Twitter) and Google Maps

The sound of distant explosions and position of the clouds of dust and smoke in the video suggest that there was also severe ground disturbance to the east and the south west of the Nyala North Court House, though Sudan Witness has not confirmed this at the time of writing.


A second video, posted to Facebook by Radio Dabanga on 29 December 2023, shows damage to a building and a body being covered with a camping mat at a separate location. Sudan Witness geolocated the video to the north of the Riyadh neighbourhood (figure 3).


Figure 3: Satellite imagery showing geolocated footage of damage to buildings in the Riyadh neighbourhood, Nyala, South Darfur, on 29 December 2023. Source: Google Earth and Facebook

Planet satellite imagery corroborated that the building was damaged, as it showed white marks (which indicate disturbance) appearing at the location between 28 and 30 December 2023 (figure 4). 


Figure 4: Planet satellite imagery showing possible damage from airstrikes in the Riyadh neighbourhood, Nyala, between 28 and 30 December 2023. Source: Planet

The caption of the second video read that a family of seven children and three women was killed by an airstrike in the Riyadh neighbourhood of Nyala. Sudan Witness observed at least 12 casualties visible in footage pertaining to the aftermath of the airstrikes, including of women and children. 


Sudan Witness assessed that at least two sites in Nyala were subject to ground disturbance and damage, which could have been caused by reported airstrikes on 29 December 2023, but has not yet confirmed the attribution.


On 31 December 2023, Radio Dabanga reported that Sudan’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) accused the SAF of carrying out airstrikes with barrel bombs in Nyala, which resulted in civilian casualties. On 30 December 2023, the Sudan Tribune and Sudan War Monitor reported that the SAF launched a series of airstrikes across Nyala on 29 December 2023, resulting in at least 118 civilian deaths and injuries.

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