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  • Writer's pictureSudan Witness

Fires following reported SAF airstrike in El Daein, East Darfur

  • CIR verified that large fires broke out in at least two locations in El Daein, East Darfur, on 20 February 2024. 

  • Residents told The Guardian that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) had carried out airstrikes on three locations in El Daein. However, CIR has not yet verified these claims.


Figure 1: Map of El Daein, East Darfur


On 22 February, The Guardian reported that an SAF aircraft bombed at least three locations in El Daein, East Darfur. Local residents told the newspaper that the strike had hit an industrial area in the main market and two other neighbourhoods in El Daein at midnight on 20 February. Sudan Witness has not yet seen any footage of the reported airstrikes, but verified that large fires broke out in at least two locations in El Daein on 20 February.


On 20 February, a pro-RSF account with 3,680 followers posted a series of videos and images to X, three of which show the same large fire burning at nighttime. The caption of the post stated that the footage shows scenes of the aftermath of “the Sudanese army’s terrorist bombing of the city of El Daein on ethnic, regional and racial grounds.” Sudan Witness has not verified these claims, but geolocated the three pieces of footage of the fire to a location in the northwest of El Daein, on the outskirts of the El Neem IDP camp, north of a railway line (figure 2).



Figure 2: Satellite imagery showing geolocated footage of fire in El Daein on 20 February [11.475518, 26.127314]. Sources: Google Earth and X


NASA FIRMS data showed four heat signatures over the same area at 1:30 am GMT+2 on 20 February (figure 3), confirming that the footage was taken on 20 February.



Figure 3: NASA FIRMS data showing six heat signatures over El Daein on 20 February. Source: NASA FIRMS


On the same date, 20 February, a pro-RSF Facebook account with 13,000 followers posted a video showing crowds of people in civilian clothing standing amid destroyed buildings. The caption of the post states that El Daein had been hit by aircrafts at 12:00 am GMT+2 that day. Sudan Witness geolocated the footage to the same location as the fires seen in the first set of footage, by matching NASA FIRMS heat signatures to the west of El Daein on 20 February (figures 3 and 4).



Figure 4: Satellite imagery showing geolocated footage of fire damage in El Daein on 20 February [11.476203, 26.127176]. Sources: Google Earth and Facebook


Comparative analysis of Planet satellite imagery from 19 and 20 February showed the appearance of dark marks at the same location in El Daein on 20 February, confirming damage to the area (figure 5). The footage was chronolocated using SunCalc, which confirmed that the video of the aftermath was filmed between approximately 6:30 am and 7:30 am GMT+2 on 20 February. 



Figure 5: Planet satellite imagery showing the appearance of dark marks in El Daein on 20 February [11.476203, 26.127176. Source: Planet 


Later that day, the official RSF account posted a video to X showing multiple clips of the aftermath of fires in El Daein, with the date “20 February 2024” stamped in the top right corner. Sudan Witness geolocated one clip (between 2:29 and 2:42 seconds) from the video to a residential area in east El Daein, approximately 5km southeast of the location where the abovementioned incident took place (figure 6). 



Figure 6: Satellite imagery showing geolocated footage of fire damage in El Daein on 20 February [11.456583,26.162194]. Sources: Google Earth and X


NASA FIRMS also detected heat signatures over this location at the same time as the abovementioned incident, at 1:30 am GMT+2 on 20 February (figure 3). The footage of the aftermath was chronolocated using SunCalc confirming that it was taken between approximately 6:30 and 7:30 am GMT+2 on 20 February. New dark marks appeared on Planet satellite imagery on 20 February, confirming new damage to this area (figure 7).



Figure 7: Planet satellite imagery showing the appearance of dark marks in El Daein on 20 February [11.456583,26.162194]. Source: Planet 


In the caption of the post, the official RSF X account claimed that the damage was a result of SAF airstrikes in East Darfur. A prominent pro-SAF account also posted to X on 20 February claiming that the SAF had launched airstrikes earlier that morning targeting ammunition and weapons stores in the city of El Daein. However, the SAF has not made any official statements regarding the incident and Sudan Witness was not able to attribute the incident. 


According to The Guardian, at least ten people were killed during the incident, including six refugees. Sudan Witness identified at least four dead bodies in footage from El Daein, and will continue to monitor content related to the incident and its aftermath.



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