July 21, 2023

Myanmar army seizes CDF base near Thantlang

Myanmar Now

Regime forces have seized control of a Chinland Defence Force (CDF) base near the town of Thantlang in northern Chin State, according to sources from the group.

A junta column of around 150 troops overran the temporary base, located on a hill about 3km outside of Thantlang, after receiving air support during a clash that broke out before dawn on Thursday, the sources said.

The column, which has carried out multiple raids on villages along the Timit River valley, has clashed repeatedly with Chin defence forces since leaving the state capital Hakha in late May.

Four CDF troops were reportedly injured in Thursday’s fighting, which was seen as part of a push by the military to reclaim Thantlang. Junta casualty figures were not available at the time of reporting.

“They’re very close to Thantlang now, and it’s going to get a lot harder for us to attack them between the hill and the town,” a spokesperson for the CDF told Myanmar Now on Friday.

Pro-regime social media channels said that an RPG launcher and other weapons and ammunition were seized from the CDF base, which is located a short distance from the only junta outpost in the area.

Thantlang has been largely destroyed since it became a stronghold of Chin resistance forces in the wake of the February 2021 coup. Once a popular tourist destination, it is nearly 1,400 metres above sea level and is about a 60km drive west of Hakha.

Most of Thantlang’s more than 10,000 inhabitants have fled to escape the military’s aerial assaults. It is now largely controlled by allied Chin resistance groups, but there are still some junta troops stationed near the town’s exit.

Since May, there have also been increasing reports of ground attacks, as the regime steps up its offensive in the area.

Over the past two months, Chin alliance forces have suffered heavy casualties along the Hakha-Thantlang road, according to some of the groups involved in the fighting.

In late May, 11 CDF members were killed by heavy shelling. On Tuesday, three resistance fighters were reported dead and another seven injured.

The military also sent reinforcements to Kanpetlet Township in southern Chin State in mid-July, resulting in a number of serious battles, sources there said.

Despite the losses of their own troops, the Chin resistance forces say they still have the upper hand on the ground, as the state’s mountainous terrain means that the military has few overland routes to choose from, making them an easy target of ambushes.

Paul, the associate secretary of the Chinland Joint Defence Committee, said this means that the military would likely continue to rely mainly on airstrikes in its ongoing offensive, as it was losing a large number of troops in on-ground battles.

Meanwhile, he added, the Chin forces would also continue to lean heavily on their main strength—their ability to coordinate among themselves to carry out attacks.

“We will fight back using joint operations and collaborative defence systems,” said Paul.

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