Escalating Armed Conflict in Sudan Pits Sudanese Armed Forces Against Rapid Support Forces

Escalating Armed Conflict in Sudan Pits Sudanese Armed Forces Against Rapid Support Forces

...By Enitan Thompson for TDPel Media.

The armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has intensified following a recent outbreak of violence in April 2023.


Khartoum, Omdurman, and other areas, including Darfur, are experiencing intense fighting.

Despite ongoing mediation efforts, both forces possess sufficient weaponry to sustain a prolonged conflict, making it unlikely for either side to achieve complete victory.

Proliferation of Firearms and Heightened Risk of Violence

Sudan ranks second in total firearms estimates among its regional neighbors, with over three million firearms held by both civilians and security forces.

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The majority of these firearms are in the hands of civilians, highlighting the potential for increased violence within Sudan as the conflict persists.


The Sudanese Armed Forces rely on their air force and heavy arsenal, while the Rapid Support Forces utilize nimble mobile units equipped with small and light weapons.

Both sides have experienced losses of weapons and equipment, but neither is expected to face a debilitating shortage.


The Sudanese Armed Forces, consisting of over 120,000 troops, are supported by an air force and armored vehicles. The Rapid Support Forces, with more than 75,000 combatants, largely originate from the Darfur region.

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These forces have overrun each other’s bases and seized weapons and equipment on the battlefield.

The Rapid Support Forces have been instrumental in the proliferation of arms in Darfur and have access to sophisticated weaponry, including man-portable air defense systems (manpads) that pose a serious threat to civil aviation.

Achieving peace and security in the region requires the participation of civil society and civilian political leadership, as well as efforts to secure weapons stockpiles and reduce illicit weapons circulation.

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The fractured power dynamics within Sudan present a complex challenge that needs to be overcome for a sustainable resolution to the conflict.

The analysis underscores the importance of understanding the dynamics of armed conflict and the implications of weapon availability in conflict zones.

It highlights the role of research organizations like the Small Arms Survey in providing valuable insights into armed violence and the actors involved.

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