Myanmar civil war (2021–present)

Source From Wikipedia English.
Myanmar civil war
Part of the Myanmar conflict

Military situation as of 15 February 2024:

State Administration Council and allies

  Tatmadaw and allies

National Unity Government and allies

  People's Defence Force and allies
  Karenni resistance forces
  Chinland resistance forces and allies

Other combatants

For a detailed accurate up-to-date map, see here

For a list of engagements, see here
Date5 May 2021–present
(2 years, 9 months, 3 weeks and 6 days)
Location
Myanmar (with spillovers in neighbouring countries)
Status Ongoing
Territorial
changes
  • Tatmadaw's stable control drops to between 72–220 out of 330 townships, though continues to control most major population centers
  • Two district-level or higher towns have come under the control of the anti-junta forces
  • State of Chinland declared
Belligerents

Myanmar National Unity Government

Allied ethnic armed organisations:

Other organizations:

Myanmar civil war (2021–present) - Wikidata State Administration Council

Aligned ethnic armed organisations:

Commanders and leaders
Strength
100,000 (PDF, February 2024 estimate) and more than 100,000 (LDF and allied ethnic armed organisations, EAOs) about 150,000 personnel; 70,000 combat troops (Tatmadaw, May 2023 estimate)
Casualties and losses
  • 46,897 total killed (per ACLED, 23 February 2024)
  • 4,218 civilians killed, 25,489 arrested (per AAPP, 1 December 2023)
  • 2,330,200+ internally displaced, 95,600 refugees per United Nations 15 December 2023
  • 11,400 residences destroyed (per ISP–Myanmar and Data for Myanmar, as of 12 May 2022)
  • 12,000 civilian properties estimated burnt or destroyed since February 2022 (per OCHA, 31 May 2022)
  • 440 houses and buildings sealed off by the Junta (per AAPP, February 2022).
  • Two killed and 17 injured inside Bangladesh

The Myanmar civil war, also called the Myanmar Spring Revolution or People's Defensive War, is an ongoing civil war following Myanmar's long-running insurgencies, which escalated significantly in response to the 2021 military coup d'état and the subsequent violent crackdown on anti-coup protests. As of February 2024, thousands of soldiers have surrendered without a fight, including six generals of the Tatmadaw, the regime’s military. A group of observers writes that the Tatmadaw's forces remain "formidable and well-equipped", with "external allies and economic resources".

As of March 2023, the United Nations (UN) estimated that since the coup in February 2021, 17.6 million people in Myanmar required humanitarian assistance, while 1.6 million were internally displaced, and over 55,000 civilian buildings had been destroyed. UNOCHA said that over 40,000 people had fled into neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, India and Thailand.

As of October 2023, the Tatmadaw controlled under 40% of the country, although they maintain that they still control around two thirds of the country's 330 townships. In the second half of 2023, Chinland Defense Forces in the state of Chin had captured a majority of the state, with a few holdouts in urban areas and along the India-Myanmar border remaining. In October 2023, the Tatmadaw began facing manpower issues, with desertions and low morale being extremely common, coinciding with the PDF and Three Brotherhood Alliance's major rebel offensive in the west of the country, Operation 1027, which was successful in taking 80 bases, 220 junta positions and several towns by 28 November 2023.

October and November 2023 saw a series of counter-offensives, including Operation 1111 besieging the state capital of Loikaw and renewed conflict by anti-junta forces in northern Rakhine and Chin states. In Operation 1027, anti-junta forces seized the district-level town of Kawlin, Sagaing Region (later recaptured by junta forces) in early November 2023 as well as Laukkai, the capital of Kokang Self-Administered Zone, in early January 2024. Operation 1027 continued past a ceasefire in northern Shan State with Mrauk U, among others, falling to Arakan Army forces in February 2024.

Background

Internal conflict in Myanmar

Insurgencies have been ongoing in Myanmar since 1948 and have largely been ethnic-based. Communist insurgencies and the Karen National Union were the primary opposition actors to the central government. Over the 20th century, several prominent ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) rose and fell in influence and control. Larger rebel factions such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) formed in response to Ne Win's 1962 Burmese coup d'état and its increased political repression. The 8888 Uprising, in response to the totalitarian rule of Ne Win, resulted in some of the first modern Bamar militias forming from protestors heading to areas under ethnic rebel control.

In the aftermath of the 8888 Uprising, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), later known as the State Peace and Development Council, formed a military junta. Myanmar's military, known better as the Tatmadaw, severely weakened ethnic insurgent groups, destroying most of their bases and strongholds through the 1990s. By the time of the 2011–2015 Myanmar political reforms, the junta had regained control of many long-time rebel strongholds including Kokang and Karen State.

The 2008 Constitution created self-administered zones with increased autonomy as part of its reforms. In 2015, the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between eight EAOs and the central government. However, by 2018 the NCA began to fall apart, due to alleged violations of the agreement by Tatmadaw soldiers entering EAO territories to build roads. Many non-signatories continued the conflict. In late 2016, four non-signatories of the NCA formed the Northern Alliance, including the KIA and Arakan Army, engaged in war with the central government and other EAOs.

2021 Myanmar coup d'état and protests

On the morning of 1 February 2021, the Tatmadaw successfully deposed the elected Myanmar government in a coup, forming a military junta. Former president Win Myint, Aung San Suu Kyi, and several other members of the National League for Democracy were detained during early morning raids and Min Aung Hlaing was placed as the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services and de facto ruler of the nation.

The exact motives behind the coup are unclear. In the leadup to the coup, the Tatmadaw claimed that the 2020 general elections had 8.6 million voter irregularities, but presented no evidence. The coup may have been a way to re-establish the military's long-reigning power over the country which ended ten years prior.

The bloody repression of anti-coup demonstrations led to the creation of armed groups to fight the State Administration Council, the military junta. Gathered under the name of the People's Defence Force (PDF) and the orders of the National Unity Government (NUG), formed by parliamentarians in office before the coup d'état, the PDF and the NUG officially declared a "defensive war" against the military regime in September 2021. The ACLED estimated that as of 29 July 2022, around 23,521 people in total had been killed in the violence following the 2021 coup.

In the months following the coup, the opposition began to coalesce around the National Unity Government, which launched an offensive against the State Administration Council (SAC), the military junta. By 2022, the opposition controlled substantial, though sparsely populated, territory. In many villages and towns, the junta's attacks drove out tens of thousands of people. On the second anniversary of the coup, in February 2023, the chairman of the SAC, Min Aung Hlaing, admitted to losing stable control over "more than a third" of townships. Independent observers note the real number is likely far higher, with as few as 72 out of 330 townships remaining under the control of the Tatmadaw, the military forces aligned with the junta. However, the townships under the control of the junta still included all major population centres.

Prelude

Armed protestors

By late March 2021, dozens of protesters had travelled to Myanmar's border areas to enlist in and train under one of the country's many insurgent groups, elevating the risk of a countrywide civil war. The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw also proposed the formation of a "federal armed force" to combat the military, and in late March the Arakan Army (AA) threatened to end its ceasefire with the military should the latter "persist in massacring civilians".

During late March, protesters increasingly began arming themselves with homemade weapons in an attempt to defend themselves against attacks by the military. Clashes with soldiers and IED attacks against administrative buildings and police stations became more common and protesters slowly became armed resistance.

After about thirty years of dormancy, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), became active again on 15 March 2021 when communist fighters crossed from China into Kachin State where the KIA would provide them weapons. and by August 2021, the CPB established a new armed wing to fight against the junta. Over the next two years, the PLA would grow its presence in Tanintharyi Region, where they fight alongside the PDF, claiming to have 1,000 active troops in December 2023.

Renewed ethnic conflict

The unrest across the nation and the increased need for junta troops in previously peaceful urban areas strengthened EAOs. The KIA had already been on the offensive since February and seized the military's base of Alaw Bum near the town of Laiza on 25 March 2021. The next day, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) attacked a military base, killing 10 junta soldiers and taking others hostages in their first attack since the protests began. The following day saw the 2021 Kalay clashes where protestors openly used homemade weapons against soldiers for the first time, targeting security forces attacking a protest camp.

The military junta declared that it would cease all military operations on 29 March 2021 and hold bilateral negotiations with ethnic armed groups. However, the KIA continued its offensives stating that the Myanmar Army had not ceased operations. Seven insurgent groups who were signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement aligned themselves with the National Unity Government (NUG), including the All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Karen National Union (KNU). The Northern Alliance, comprising the Arakan Army, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, attacked a police station in Naungmon, Shan State, killing at least 10 police officers and indicating their disregard of the junta's call for a ceasefire. In response, on 11 April 2021, the junta military launched a counter-attack to recapture the Alaw Bum base using airstrikes and ground troops, but had to retreat amidst heavy casualties.

On 26 April, the Battle of Mindat became one of the first large-scale conflicts arising from the 2021 coup. The Chinland Defense Force (CDF) began armed resistance in Mindat, Chin State and the junta declared martial law. After a soldier allegedly fired at protestors, fighting between the two sides erupted. The battle lasted four days, killing 30 junta soldiers and left Mindat abandoned as more than 10,000 people fled the area.

Onset of formal resistance and war, May 2021

On 16 April 2021, pro-democracy politician Min Ko Naing announced the formation of the National Unity Government, with members of ethnic minority groups in senior roles. As part of the announcement he said that ousted leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint would retain their positions and asked the international community to recognize their government over the junta. Throughout April, informal clashes with protestors intensified, such as in Taze when protesters fought back against soldiers with hunting rifles and firebombs on 8 April.

The National Unity Government then declared the formation of an armed wing, the People's Defence Force (PDF) – on 5 May 2021, a date that is often cited as the start of the civil war. The PDF was formed to protect its supporters from military junta attacks and as a first step towards a Federal Union Army. The PDF clashed with the Tatmadaw in the town of Muse on 23 May, killing at least 13 members of Myanmar's security forces.

 
Entrance to Loikaw

In early June, fighting erupted in Myawaddy District where the military and Karen Border Guard Forces battled against a combined Karen and PDF force, leaving dozens of junta troops killed. Members of the Karenni PDF in Kayah State also captured and destroyed several Tatmadaw outposts near the state capital, Loikaw. Towards the end of May, the Tatmadaw used artillery and helicopters to strike PDF positions in Loikaw and Demoso. On 30 May, the KIA joined the PDF in a battle against junta troops in Katha Township, killing eight regime soldiers. Fighting also sprouted up in other Kachin State townships, including Putao, Hpakant and Momauk.

While there were less conflict deaths between May and September, there were still many armed clashes and a spike in early June. On 22 June, junta forces using armoured vehicles raided a safehouse of the PDF in Mandalay, detaining several fighters. Myanmar security forces killed at least 25 people in another raid in Tabayin. These attacks occurred in Central Myanmar, also known as Anyar, an area that had rarely seen armed violence in recent times.

Declaration of war

On 7 September 2021, the NUG declared a state of emergency across the nation and launched what they called the "people's defensive war" against the military junta. The declaration of war increased the number of skirmishes and clashes between PDF militias, EAOs and the military junta across the country.

According to the NUG in September 2021, over 1,700 junta soldiers had been killed and 630 wounded in fighting during the preceding three months. Several major clashes took place from September to October in Chin State, Sagaing Region, Magwe Region, Kayah State and Shan State.

By late September 2021, 8,000 residents of Thantlang town, Chin state, fled to Mizoram, India after their houses were set ablaze by the junta army. Ambushes by anti-junta forces in Shan State also killed at least 20 soldiers. On 16 November 2021, junta forces overran and captured the base camp of Kalay PDF in southwestern Sagaing Region, killing 2 fighters and capturing 9 Kalay PDF medics.

In October, junta-controlled media reported that at least 406 junta informants had been killed and 285 wounded since 1 February in targeted attacks by resistance forces.

Initial conflict

2021–2022 dry season campaigns

According to analyst Matthew Arnold, the civil war's momentum passed a critical threshold by the end of the 2022 dry season where the revolutionary sentiment had grown into a broader social and armed resistance that the junta could no longer suppress. Towards the end of 2021, direct armed clashes gave way to more bombings, explosive devices and landmines. The PDF, with the strong ground support from local communities, attacked soft government targets like police stations, outposts and junta-owned businesses. Through these, the resistance became more organised as they seized weapons, got training and communicated between units through the help of the NUG and allied EAOs. According to the Karen National Union, roughly 2,200 junta soldiers and militiamen were killed in the first half of 2022.

Southeastern Myanmar

 
Moe Bye Reservoir

On 17 November 2021, dozens of junta soldiers ambushed an outpost of the Moebye PDF in Pekon Township, Shan State, forcing outnumbered PDF soldiers to retreat. At least four junta soldiers were killed during a four-day clash in Hpruso Township with the KNDF and Karenni Army.

On 14 December, around 200 Tatmadaw troops searched the Karen National Union (KNU)-controlled town of Lay Kay Kaw Myothit near the Thai border, arresting people suspected to be activists or members of the PDF. On 20 December, Tatmadaw forces burned down nineteen houses in Kunnar, Loikaw Township after taking it from the KNDF the week before.

On 24 December, more than 35 people were massacred when they were ambushed by junta troops outside the village of Mo So in Kayah State. Two staff members of the aid group Save the Children were among those killed. The United Nations Security Council condemned the attack and called for a "thorough and transparent investigation" into the incident.

Throughout February and March 2022, the junta carried out repeated air strikes against civilian targets in villages in Shan, Kayin and Kayah States. On 17 February alone, around 20 junta soldiers and 20 resistance fighters were killed in clashes in Mobye, southern Shan State. Witnesses described soldiers systematically looting jewelry, cash, vehicles, and other valuables. Amnesty International reported these actions as Collective Punishment against the country's ethnic minorities.

Fighting broke out in parts of Loikaw on 14 April. The number of refugees on the Thai border increased after increased combat in Kayin State. On 15 April, junta soldiers suffered at least 30 casualties after being pushed back by the KNLA at the battle for Lay Kay Kaw.

Central Myanmar

The Dry Zone historical heartland of Myanmar had rarely seen armed violence in the modern conflict in Myanmar since 1948 as a predominantly Buddhist and Bamar farming region. The fighting in the Anyar theater of Central Myanmar starting in 2021 changed this trajectory. Without the presence of EAOs, the Bamar PDF groups are characterized as local cells acting autonomously towards simple and directed towards the 2021 coup. In the 2021-2022 dry season, the PDFs began to work more closely together and coordinate towards larger goals. In early 2022, resistance forces were fighting in Monywa, the capital of Sagaing Region. Resistance attacks on the junta saw the junta retaliate on civilians Targeted personnel attacks increased, killing various junta personnel and destroying equipment. The PDF also suffered losses, with 12 fighters killed in a battle in Khin-U Township. Many cities saw violent clashes during 2022's Union Day. Mandalay also saw fighting, with casualties on both sides.

Northern Myanmar

Throughout the 2021-2022 dry season, various groups in Northern Myanmar carried out ambushes against military outposts and convoys. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the PDF attacked convoys in Mohnyin and Hpakant Townships. In October, they also partially shut down gold mining operations run by junta allies. After an ambush near Shwegu, the Tatmadaw responded with airstrikes and ground attacks against KIA bases in Hpakant and Mohnyin Townships. In early February, the KIA assaulted several military bases in Kachin and Shan States, reportedly burning one in Hpakant Township down. The junta responded by increasing airstrikes and send reinforcements to the area.

The Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and the Chin National Army raided and ambushed outposts and convoys in Matupi and Mindat Townships. In December, the Tatmadaw recaptured the town of Thantlang from the CDF in an offensive that destroyed over a quarter of the town's buildings.

Yangon and other regions

During this time, there were several cases of guerilla warfare across Myanmar utilizing homemade explosives, including several accidents killing resistance fighters. On 17 June 2021, an army vehicle exploded in Tamwe Township, Yangon, allegedly killing several military personnel. On 14 December, Tatmadaw troops captured 12 suspected resistance fighters after several bombs accidentally exploded in Hlaing Thar Yar Township, Yangon.

Urban warfare became less practical so resistance forces began targeting junta-aligned officials. According to junta-aligned sources, 367 junta-appointed officials were assassinated in targeted attacks between February 2021 and February 2022. Resistance forces also began targeting the homes of junta pilots in Yangon in response to airstrikes on civilians.

Fighting also occurred in other Bamar-majority regions. On 31 January 2022, at least 36 junta soldiers were reportedly killed in ambushes over three days in Magwe, Sagaing and Tanintharyi regions and Chin, Shan and Kayah states.

2022 monsoon decrease in intensity

The intensity of fighting decreased during the monsoon season. Resistance forces were advantaged by the rainfall as the junta could not carry out air strikes as easily. In June, resistance groups achieved control of 40–50% of the country. Arakan Army claimed to administer most of Rakhine State with an independent government. Chin National Front and CDF made plans to establish a new government. The KIA and the Wa State, a neutral de facto independent region of Myanmar, consolidated expanded territories. However, the Myanmar Army retained tight control of almost every city in Myanmar and most of the country's natural resources, including important jade mines. During this time, the PDF were also unable to move beyond rural guerilla tactics. Duwa Lashi La, acting president of the NUG, cited the lack of weaponry and international support as reasons for the prolonged conflict.

On 31 May 2022, a bombing killed one person and injured nine others near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. State media accused the People's Defence Force of being responsible for the attack, which the PDF denied. A July clash in Pekon Township, Shan State also killed around 40 junta soldiers and 11 PDF fighters.

Massacres and executions

The military deployed its time-tested counterinsurgency methods in what has been called a "hammer approach" of bombing and burning villages and massacring civilians to flush out rebel groups. However, the approach was ineffective because they were unable to consolidate power or deter the resistance.

Myanmar military forces executed at least 37 villagers in the Mon Taing Pin massacre in May 2022 after shelling the village of Mondaingbin, Sagaing Region with heavy artillery. The junta forces entered the local Buddhist monastery, conscripted young male villagers briefly before executing them and other captives by a stupa.

On 23 July 2022, the State Administration Council announced that it had executed four political prisoners, including Zayar Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu, which was the first use of capital punishment in Myanmar since the late 1980s. The men had been accused of helping the resistance movement. The event was widely seen as a provocation to escalate the ongoing conflict by the Tatmadaw. The international community, including United Nations Secretary-General, the G7 nations and the European Union strongly condemned the executions.

On 16 September 2022, the Burmese military killed 11 children and wounded another 17 in the Let Yet Kone massacre, as part of an airborne strike conducted against a school in Let Yet Kone, Sagaing Region. The military claimed that the village was harbouring resistance fighters from the KIA and PDF. The attack was widely condemned by the international community, including the United Nations and European Union.

Later in September 2022, retired Brigadier General Ohn Thwin, mentor to State Administration Council vice-chairman Senior General Soe Win, was assassinated by anti-regime guerilla groups in Yangon. This assassination caused an increase in security on high-ranking junta personnel.

Breakdown of Arakan ceasefire, monsoon 2022

In early 2022, the Arakan Army and the junta clashed again in northern Rakhine State. On 8 February, Arakan Army and junta forces clashed on at least two occasions in Maungdaw in Rakhine State. Fighting broke out on 4 February when junta troops carried out a sneak attack on an AA outpost near the Letpan Mountains northeast of Mee Taik Village, killing an AA sentry, according to AA spokesman Khaing Thukha. Three hours of clashes were also reported on 6 February. The clashes raised fears of a breakdown of the informal ceasefire between the AA and the military which had been in place since November 2020. Further clashes in northern Maungdaw on the night of 7 February killed two civilians. Several junta troops, including a major, were also killed in the attack.

 
The Bangladesh-Myanmar border

Between June and August 2022, the informal ceasefire reached in late 2020 between the Arakan Army (AA) and the junta broke down. The AA had consolidated control during this period, avoided the initial violence of the war, and introduced many public services and local administrators in northern Rakhine state. With the military's attention diverted to the increasing resistance elsewhere and increasing popular support for an alliance with the NUG, the AA sought to expand its influence into southern Rakhine. Rhetoric from AA leader Twan Mrat Naing in June grew more provocative with military spokespeople stating that AA was inviting conflict. Armed clashes resumed in July after the junta launched an airstrike against an AA base in Kayin State, killing 6 AA soldiers. AA retaliated in Maungdaw Township and western Chin State in late July and early August. By late August, land travel to northern Rakhine required passing a series of checkpoints and all public transport ships ceased operation due to river and land blockades.

On 16 August 2022, two mortar shells fired by the Myanmar Army landed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, killing one man and injuring five others. Myanmar Army helicopters allegedly entered Bangladeshi air space to attack the Arakan Army and fired a shell within Bangladeshi air space. Two days later, Bangladesh summoned Myanmar ambassador Aung Kyaw Moe to strongly protest the land and airspace violations. In October 2022, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen made a statement that border bombings by Myanmar stopped after he met with the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming.

Escalation of the civil war

Increased resistance efforts

In mid-October 2022, NUG issued a statement calling for the victory of the Spring Revolution by the end of 2023. This call to action was followed by increased fighting by the resistance forces in urban areas and in Southeastern Myanmar. This development took place in the wake of the junta torching at least 20 villages in the Sagaing and Magway Regions as part of a "four cuts" strategy of attacking civilians to weaken anti-regime movements. According to Sagaing-based resistance spokespeople, many victims of arson then joined the resistance. The urgency of the resistance was likely prompted by the looming elections planned by the State Administration Council. The fragmentated nature of the grassroots elements of the PDF became more organized in 2022 through the command of the NUG and from cooperation with various EAOs- especially the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) claimed in January 2023 that 1,692 regime troops and 211 resistance fighters were killed since the 2021 coup, 293 civilians had been killed by the regime, and 126 displaced civilians died while fleeing their homes in Kayah and Shan states in 2022.

Highland attacks

 
A street in Kawkareik

The Karen National Liberation Army stepped up fighting, besieging the major town of Kawkareik on the Thai border in the 21 October 2022 Battle of Kawkareik. The battle began with surprise attacks on the Asia Highway and at government offices within the town. Resistance forces looked poised to take the town, but ultimately withdrew two days later after facing junta air strikes and strategically drawing junta troops away from nearby positions. Four days later, undeterred KNLA-led forces seized a junta Light Infantry Battalion base in Kyain Seikgyi Township.

In Shan State, clashes between PDF forces near Inle Lake and the Pa-O National Organisation (PNO) broke out after the PNO coerced villages for speedboats and militia recruits.

 
View of the Kalay-Falam Road

In late 2022, Chin State resistance forces used drones in a week-long siege of an outpost in Falam Township, killing 74% of the junta forces stationed, but failing to take the outpost against aerial bombardments. In February 2023, CNA captured Thantlang police station and took control of the town. In Kachin State, the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA) became more actively allied with the junta as conflict between SNA and the KIA grew. In August, the SNA and the Myanmar Army set fire to hundreds of homes in Kachin state forcing KIA withdrawal from the area.

Chin forces also targeted convoys on roads within the state. In March 2023, combined Chin resistance consisting of CNA, CNDF, and CDFs conducted multiple ambushes on a regime convoy between Kalay, Falam and Hakha capturing and destroyed multiple armoured vehicles. The NUG awarded the combined Chin forces 400 million kyat for seizing two armoured vehicles. The following day, the groups attacked another junta convoy carrying 80 troops on the road between Matupi and Paletwa, killing over 30 junta soldiers. In April, CNDF attacked a junta base on the Kalay-Falam road near Varr, Falam Township, killing eleven regime soldiers and capturing fourteen.

Lowland attacks

In November 2022, resistance in Bago Region increased. In Monyo Township, western Bago Region, the PDF attacked a police building using cluster bombs. In eastern Bago, 15 junta soldiers were killed in a Bago PDF raid on a police station in Yedashe Township. Thousands of civilians also fled Shwegyin Township as joint KNLA and NUG-led resistance forces seized three military outposts.

 
A rural area near Mawlaik, Sagaing Region

In early December, a video of PDF forces beating and shooting a woman dead emerged on social media. The NUG Ministry of Defence said that the incident happened in June in Tamu, Sagaing and that they were investigating the incident after detaining the perpetrators involved.

In early January 2023, PDF groups in Kani Township, Sagaing Region attacked junta supply ships, killing at least 25 soldiers. The junta increasingly used waterways for supplies, avoiding roadways in resistance-held areas. In April 2023, a combined PDF force from nearby townships seized the Tower Taing hill base Kani Township, killing 30 junta soldiers and seizing weapons.

In early 2023, the Mandalay PDF announced their intentions to ramp up military operations. Alongside TNLA, they engaged in a series of intense clashes with the junta forces in Nawnghkio Township near the Shan-Mandalay border, killing at least 75 junta soldiers and wounding 60 others. A combined force of at least 900 junta and pro-junta militia troops attacked resistance positions with the help of artillery attacks and airstrikes during the clashes but were forced to retreat.

Urban attacks

In 2023, the number of attacks in urban areas increased. In March 2023, the urban guerilla group Urban Owls assassinated Minn Tayzar Nyunt Tin, a legal and money-laundering aide to the junta with links to former Air Force commander General Myat Hein, in Thanlyin, Yangon. Minn Tayzar Nyunt Tin helped draft the repressive Cyber Security Law, which was seen as violating digital rights, privacy and freedom of expression.

Junta retaliation and atrocities

In October 2022, battles and skirmishes increased, as the junta committed several civilian atrocities. On 21 October, junta forces decapitated Saw Tun Moe, a high school teacher from Thit Nyi Naung, and impaled his head on a NUG-administered school's spiked gate after burning and looting Taung Myint village in Magway Region.

 
Mogaung Township, east of Hpakant

Two days later, on 23 October, over 80 people were killed by an airstrike in Hpakant Township, Northern Myanmar, during an anniversary celebration for the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). At least 80 civilians were killed, making it the single deadliest attack on civilians since the start of the renewed civil war. The junta denied civilian casualties while the United Nations condemned the attack.

In November 2022, the junta continued burning villages in Sagaing Region, including the home village of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the head of the Catholic Church in Myanmar. Junta soldiers also hid in civilian trucks impersonating workers to ambush local defence forces in Shwebo Township.

Scorched earth

In November 2022, the dry season allowed the greater use of the Myanmar Air Force to weaken resistance forces' ability to maintain strategic positions and outposts. Aerial bombardment, helicopter raids and artillery strikes typically followed skirmishes once junta ground forces sustained substantial losses and retreated. Once the entrapped forces were relieved by aerial support, they would engage in scorched earth tactics. World War Two veterans described the destruction as worse than that of the Burma campaign due to the deliberate targeting of civilian villages. The heavy use of air forces came alongside a decrease in junta's ability to fight on the ground. During the week of 21 November, repeated junta air attacks along the Sagaing-Kachin border killed 80 and disrupted supply chains between the two resistance regions. The junta's scorched earth campaign stretched across northern Myanmar, burning bases and villages they could no longer defend. Thousands of residents fled during the campaign as hundreds of homes were destroyed. In early 2023, one scorched earth push by the junta aimed to resecure the Letpadaung Copper Mine in Salingyi Township for Chinese foreign workers planning to leave for their holidays.

On 23 February 2023, army troops launched a new military offensive in Sagaing, raiding and pillaging villages at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Mu Rivers. During the offensive, troops from the 99th Light Infantry Division executed at least 17 villagers during the Tar Taing massacre. Over that week, army troops in Sagaing killed a total of 99 villagers, beheaded 20 resistance fighters, and raped at least 3 women.

 
Pinlaung, southern Shan State

In March 2022, army troops tortured and executed at least 30 villagers during the Pinlaung massacre in Shan State, including 3 Buddhist monks. In mid-April, Myanmar Air Force bombed a celebration gathering during the Pazigyi massacre in Sagaing Region, killing at least 165 civilians, including several children, days before Thingyan, the Burmese new year. The junta's spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun stated that they chose to attack the village as the village was allegedly opening a PDF office. The United Nations condemned the attack, citing a disregard of the military's duty to protect civilians.

Paramilitaries and martial law

On 31 January 2023, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a directive enabling organisations and citizens deemed "loyal to the state," including civilians, civil servants, and army personnel, to obtain firearms licenses. The regulatory shift has enabled the military junta to arm pro-junta Pyusawhti militias and to suppress pro-democracy forces in light of waning military recruitment and their challenges with concurrently operating in multiple war theatres throughout the country. On 12 February 2023, a leaked document purportedly from the Ministry of Home Affairs detailed the junta issuing firearms licenses to pro-regime civilians for the operation of counter-insurgency paramilitaries based on the new firearm licensing directive.

On 2 February 2023, Min Aung Hlaing imposed martial law in 37 townships with resistance activity, affecting millions of residents.

Temporary stalemate

Arakan ceasefire and subsequent new fronts, November 2022

 
Fields in Maungdaw Township, northern Rakhine State

On 26 November 2022, the Arakan Army and the junta agreed to a temporary ceasefire starting on 27 November. The ceasefire was brokered by Yōhei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation. Arakan Army spokespeople maintained that they agreed to the ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, as opposed to international pressure. The Arakan Army did not withdraw from fortifications held at the time of the ceasefire. Junta spokespeople said that this was the first step towards a permanent ceasefire with the Arakan Army. As of mid-December, tensions remained high with forces from both sides remaining in deployment within northern Rakhine State.

On 30 November, the military launched a major assault on the Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army using heavy weapons on a base near Chinshwehaw by the Chinese border. This assault continued into 2 December, reportedly sending 500 junta soldiers.

The military continued its campaign in northern Shan State against the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). On 7 December 2022, the junta launched a ground offensive on the TNLA in the Battle of Namhsan using aerial bombs. After six days of fighting, the TNLA captured four villages from junta control, killing 70 soldiers and capturing 28. On 17 December, the junta retreated, claiming that they reached an agreement with TNLA, and that they intended to target the PDF forces and attacked the TNLA in mistake. The TNLA rejected the statement. Continued clashes in late December forced over a thousand civilians to flee to Mogok.

2023 guerrilla attacks

According to analysts in early 2023, the civil war was in a state of stalemate. Despite several successful engagements, there was still a significant disparity in power between the joint resistance forces and the junta. The PDF and EAOs faced resource constraints as they primarily relied on donations for funding and underground channels to acquire arms. The resistance also increasingly used coordinated drone attacks, such as on 27 August 2023, when 11 resistance groups jointly conducted drone strikes in Sagaing Township, killing 17 soldiers. Moreover, earlier on 31 January and 1 February 2023, a joint force led by Karen National Defence Organisation conducted a drone that killed two military commanders; Captain Zaw Win Naing of 32nd Infantry Division and Captain Wai Lin Soe of 585th Light Infantry Division in Htee Ka Pa Lel village, south of Myawaddy town.

In early June 2023, NUG announced the formation of the PDF's first battalion in Yangon Region – Battalion 5101. On 19 June 2023, the Urban Owls guerilla group assassinated Ye Khaing, the operations director and head of security of Yangon International Airport, and a former air force major, outside his house at Mingaladon Township, Yangon. Ye Khaing was allegedly providing information to the junta and detaining anti-junta activists at Myanmar's primary international airport. Urban Owls also claimed that Ye Khaing was a confidante of Steven Law, the owner of Asia World Company, which operates the airport, and is a major supporter of the regime together with the second-in-command, Senior General Soe Win.

In late June 2023, a combined resistance force of PDF and KNLA took control of the National Highway 8 in Mon State, installing checkpoints and arresting junta personnel. Also in June, the Ye Township-based resistance group Ye Belu launched successive guerrilla attacks on the junta in June 2023. On 22 June, they attacked a junta security checkpoint at Chaung Taung bridge, killing four soldiers and one official working for the junta's Ministry of Immigration and Population in Lamaing. On 26 June, the group assassinated a Pyusawhti militia leader in Duya, Ye Township. Two days later, they ambushed an army convoy from the junta's No. 19 Military Operations Command, killing five soldiers and injuring others. The attacks caused a breakdown in junta administration in Ye Township. All administration offices in three towns - namely, Lamaing, Khawzar and Ye - closed down.

On 10 August 2023, junta forces clashed with a coalition of several rebel groups at Thandaung, near Nay Pyi Taw. The rebel forces aimed to capture the 606th Light Infantry Division Headquarters. On 15 September 2023, members of the Northern Thandaung Defence Force, along with the Lethal Prop drone unit, attacked the Aye Lar military base near the Nay Pyi Taw International Airport with 2 makeshift bombs. It was the first documented drone attack by resistance forces against an airbase.

2023 monsoon offensives

In August 2023, the NUG claimed that 3,012 junta troops were killed between January and July 2023. In Kayah state alone, 667 military junta troops and 99 resistance members were killed. In a September interview, Duwa Lashi La claimed that resistance forces had taken effective control of about 60% of Myanmar's territory.

In early June 2023, a coalition force of KNLA and other resistance forces ambushed junta forces at Don Tha Mi bridge checkpoints on the border of Karen and Mon States, inflicting heavy casualties. The next day, resistance groups raided the police station and junta offices in Kyain Seikgyi Township, Karen State, killing 10 junta soldiers and injuring 15. The junta retaliated with artillery fire and deployed attack helicopters, killing two local civilians and a monk.

In Kayah State on 13 June 2023, the Karenni National People's Liberation Front (KNPLF), who had previously been in a ceasefire with the junta and became a Border Guard Force in 2009, openly defected to anti-junta forces. The KNPLF began attacking Burmese military positions, joining forces with KA, KNDF, KNLA, and PDF, and seizing junta outposts in the Battle of Mese. The combined forces took over Mese Township in Eastern Kayah State. 430 soldiers of the Light Infantry Battalion, including their lieutenant colonel commander, surrendered to the resistance. Later in July, KNLA forces and allies captured the Lat Khat Taung hill junta base. During an attempt to recapture the hill, 20 junta soldiers were killed and 34 wounded.

From July to September 2023, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army and the Mandalay People's Defence Force jointly conducted Operation Kanaung against junta forces in the Mandalay Region. Over that period, 76 junta soldiers were killed, 19 were wounded, and a large amount of weapons and ammunition were seized.

Operation 1027

 
Map of anti-junta gains made during Operation 1027 and Taungthaman as of 9 January 2024

On 27 October 2023, the Three Brotherhood Alliance initiated Operation 1027, targeting the junta's checkpoints and bases near Lashio and the Phaung Seik border trade post near Chinshwehaw. Chinshwehaw fell into ethnic armies' hands. Lashio Airport and two important China-Myanmar border crossings near Laukkai were closed. Over the next three days, the coalition forces captured 57 bases to which the junta responded with aerial bombardments. Simultaneously, the AA engaged junta forces in Htigyaing Township, Sagaing Region.

 
Kunlong suspension bridge

On 30 October, Nawnghkio fell under limited TNLA and Mandalay PDF control and 41 junta combatants in Kunlong surrendered to the MNDAA. The next day, combined AA and KIA forces captured Gangdau Yang base on the Myitkyina-Bhamo road. A junta convoy came the next day to reinforce Nawnghkio but TNLA and PDF forces blew up an armored car, took weapons and POWs. The convoy retreated and established a camp in southwest Nawnghkio Township, which was assaulted by the rebel forces the following morning. The junta acknowledged having lost control of three towns in Northern Shan State, including Pang Hseng. TNLA, MNDAA, and AA declared control over four towns, including Hsenwi.

On 6 November, TNLA forces seized bridges and road gates near Namhkam, Shan State, and took the town after a three-day assault. Kawlin also fell to the coalition, marking the first district-level capital seized during the operation. Over the next three days, the coalition took Khampat, Kunlong and Monekoe across northern Myanmar, re-establishing local government functions after securing towns. They also took Panlong base in Kunlong Township, killing Brigadier General Aung Kyaw Lwin in the battle, and the strategic Goktwin bridge near the Goteik viaduct on the main Mandalay-China highway.

On 11 December, China helped to hold peace talks between the Tatmadaw and various rebel groups, including the Brotherhood Alliance. The Brotherhood Alliance announced later on 13 December that these peace talks "lasted only 10 minutes" and vowed to continue fighting.

On 17 November, the TNLA captured the Sakhan Thit Kone base in Namhkam Township, but lost it to a junta offensive the following day. The TNLA accused the junta of using chemical weapon bombs during the counter-siege. Through December, the TNLA seized Namhsan and Mantong taking over the Pa Laung Self-Administered Zone from junta control.

In the aftermath of Operation 1027, the United Wa State Party declared Wa State a neutral zone in November 2023. The UWSP threatened the use of force against hypothetical anti-junta or Tatmadaw incursions into the Wa Self-Administered Division while promising to aid refugees and other displaced persons.

Concurrent late 2023 offensives

In late January 2024, BBC News said that the "bloody two-year stalemate" of the civil war appears to "have been broken" with the success of the offense of the three ethnic armies in the Operation 1027 offense. The northern Shan offensive would culminate in the fall of Laukkai, the capital of Kokang and the surrender of thousands Tatmadaw soldiers and their equipment".

Ronan Lee, a professor at Loughborough University, stated that strategic reversals, nationwide territorial losses and economic decline mean momentum had strongly shifted away from Myanmar's junta, and the junta "may now be in a death spiral".

Operation 1107 and 1111

 
Loikaw University

Offensives timed to coincide with Operation 1027 also took place in the eastern states of Shan and Kayah. In northern Shan State, the KNLA and PDF clashed with the Tatmadaw around the town of Kawkareik. In Mese Township (part of Kayah State), the KNPLF, KA and KNDF launched a joint military operation that captured several border posts starting on November 7. Four days later, they launched the major Operation 1111 against Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State. The military operations in Kayah displaced tens of thousands of civilians, especially from Loikaw. After over a month of heavy fighting, rebel forces had won control of 85% of the capital. Nonetheless, fighting has continued into January.

Resumption of war in Rakhine

On the morning of 13 November 2023, the Arakan Army (AA) attacked two Border Guard Police stations in Rathedaung Township, breaking the Rakhine State Ceasefire Agreement between the junta and the Arakan Army. Dong Paik camp was captured by 6:30 am. On 14 November, the junta had already abandoned around 40 outposts in Rakhine state after attacks by the Arakan Army, but few came under their immediate control. Dozens of Myanmar security officers surrendered to the Arakan Army the following day.

The following night, the Arakan Army launched an attack on Pauktaw, seizing the township police station. By the next morning, the Arakan Army had taken control of the town. The junta sent 2 helicopter gunships alongside naval support to fire back, including at civilian housing, with heavy machine gun fire. Pauktaw's proximity to the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, posed a threat to the junta. Junta forces detained about 100 residents who were unable to flee, and positioned themselves to surround the town, using two navy ships to blockade the harbour.

Operation Taungthaman

An operation in Madaya Township, Mandalay Region also started in late October in support to the simultaneous Operation 1027. On 13 November, fighting erupted in Kinn Village, eastern Madaya Township between the TNLA and the junta, who responded with air and artillery strikes and later burning the village down. By 28 November, PDF and TNLA forces captured a junta base in the township. The TNLA additionally supported the operations with attacks in Nawnghkio and Kyaukme Townships in southern Shan State to cut off junta reinforcements.

Chin offensive

 
Kennedy Peak, Chin State

On the morning of 13 November 2023, after two days of fighting, the Chin National Army (CNA), along with local Chinland Defense Force (CDF) units, captured the town of Rikhawdar on the India-Myanmar border. This marked the first town captured by resistance forces in Chin State since the start of armed resistance following the coup. At least 40 junta soldiers and police officers fled to the neighboring Indian state of Mizoram, where they surrendered to local police before being turned over to the Assam Rifles. They were subsequently repatriated back to Myanmar.

On 14 November, the Arakan Army launched an offensive in Paletwa Township on the Chin-Rakhine border. The Arakan Army accused the Tatmadaw of using chemical weapons during the ensuing battles. On 6 December, the Arakan Army announced that they had captured a major military base in the township.

On 21 November, local Zoland PDF units seized a military base on Kennedy Peak, the second highest mountain in Chin State. Over the next week, CNA and its allies captured Lailenpi and Rezua in Matupi Township.

On 6 December 2023, the Chin National Front ratified the Chinland Constitution, proclaiming the state of Chinland.

Effect of 2023 offensives on Tatmadaw

 
Two ATR-42 of the Myanmar Air Force at Mawlamyine Airport

The Irrawaddy reported on 22 November 2023 that the Tatmadaw was preparing 14,000 soldiers for the defence of Naypyitaw, including by moving troops from other regions to the capital and mobilizing civil servants into the military. These preparations started soon after Operation 1027 was launched against the Tatmadaw. In addition, the Tatmadaw was preparing 10,000 troops for the defence of Mandalay, Bago and Yangon. There were also fortification works beginning, with Naypyitaw police stations "also preparing concrete blocks, sandbags and other materials needed to transform into defensive bases in just a few days".

In early December, the Tatmadaw-led government appealed for deserters to return, promising the deserters exoneration. The National Unity Government claims some 20,000 soldiers had deserted and joined its ranks. By 7 December, the junta began freeing soldiers who had been jailed for desertion to ease apparent manpower shortages as a result of battlefield pressures from recent operations.

Paramilitaries

BBC News reports that the pro-junta paramilitary Pyusawhti has been accused of more than one atrocity against civilians and using force to recruit local men. But they have also been less than effective in building up grassroots enforcement on behalf of the junta, and have "taken root only in the small number of communities where the military's own party is traditionally strong."

One man contacted by the BBC in the area where Wathawa has been mobilising since early 2022 said he had only been able to recruit a maximum of 10–15 men in each village, and then only by threatening to burn down their homes.

He said many of the recruits had run away, and were being helped by other villagers to hide from Wathawa and his gun-toting monks.

2024 offensives

Fall of Laukkai

 
China-Myanmar border gate near Laukkai

In late November and December, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) closed in on Laukkai, the capital of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone as a continuation of Operation 1027. They seized several strategic positions during the Battle of Laukkai. MNDAA forces attacked junta bases around the city, including the Four Buddhist Statues Hill outpost immediately south of Laukkai. On 26 December, over 90 of the junta's 55th Light Infantry Division surrendered to the MNDAA. The artillery shelling of Laukkai stopped and the city mostly fell under MNDAA control on 28 December. On 5 January 2024, the MNDAA seized control of the Northeast Command's headquarters in Laukkai and gained full control of the city.

A few days later, the Three Brotherhood Alliance claimed to capture the towns of Kutkai and Theinni on 8 January after seizing junta military posts in the towns, including the headquarters of the 16th Military Operations Command in Theinni. On 23 January, three of the brigadier generals who surrendered at Laukkai were sentenced to death and the other three were sentenced to life imprisonment, under military law.

Tenuous ceasefire

In early December, the Tatmadaw allegedly reached out to China for it to assert pressure on the Three Brotherhood Alliance to stop Operation 1027. On January 12, China announced that it had negotiated a ceasefire between the junta and the Three Brotherhood Alliance. The two sides agreed to disengage personnel and pledged not to compromise the safety of Chinese border residents. According to the Brotherhood Alliance, they had agreed not to seize more towns in northern Shan and that the junta had agreed not to shell or strike that area. The following day, the TNLA reported that the junta had broken their ceasefire agreement with airstrikes in various townships in Northern Shan, including Lashio Township and Kyaukme Township.

On 10 February 2024, the Tatmadaw announced that all men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 will be required to complete up to 2 years of mandatory military service, amid its territorial losses. Those who fail to enlist face imprisonment for up to 5 years during a national emergency. This announcement has been interpreted by some as a sign of increasing desperation in the face of steadily advancing resistance forces.

2024 Rakhine offensive

 
Paletwa seen from the Kaladan River, 2015

On 8 January 2024, the Arakan Army continued Operation 1027 and captured the Taung Shey Taung base and its 200 junta soldiers in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State. They then escalated their offence into Paletwa Township, Chin State with the aim of capturing Paletwa, a strategic town for the Indo-Myanmar Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project On 15 January, the Arakan Army seized Paletwa and the entire township, declaring it a "military council-free area." A week later, the Arakan Army captured the town of Pauktaw in Rakhine State concluding a three-month battle.

On 17 January 2024, the Taingen camp on the Falam road to the Indian border was captured, with Chin resistance forces seizing arms and ammunition. On 20 January 2024, after more than 600 junta soldiers and refugees cross the Indo-Myanmar border, the Government of India announced a plan to fence the 1,643 km border.

On 3 February 2024, as the clashes between Arakan Army and Tatmadaw increased in Rakhine, mortar shells and several bullets reportedly landed in Bangladesh territory, which injured some local residents. Repeated bursts of gunfire and explosions were be heard across the Bangladesh–Myanmar border from Ukhia, Cox's Bazar. At least 229 Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) personnel entered Bangladesh through the Tumbru border point seeking refuge from AA, where the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) disarmed them and gave them shelter in Bandarban district. On 5 February 2024, a Bangladeshi woman and a Rohingya man died from a mortar shell that fell on the Ghumdum border in Bandarban, reportedly fired by Myanmar.

The Arakan Army reportedly captured most remaining Tatmadaw bases in Minbya by 6 February, almost taking full control of the township. The same day, the AA seized the Taung Pyo junta outpost along the border with Bangladesh in Maungdaw Township. The Arakan Army additionally captured Kyauktaw on 7 February, while heavy fighting continued in Mrauk U and Ramree. The Tatmadaw abandoned Myebon to go to Kyaukphyu on 9 February, leaving ammunition behind in their rush and abandoning the southern township of Mrauk-U District. The following day, AA took the town of Mrauk U completing their control over the township. During the battle, three Myanmar Navy landing craft were reportedly sunk. In response to the seizure of the three towns, the junta blew up bridges in Kyauktaw Township and the state capital, Sittwe. Five days later, the Arakan Army captured Myebon. After the capture of Myebon, the Arakan Army started intensifying their assaults on Ramree, where fighting has been going on since mid-December. These assaults killed around 80 junta reinforcements between 24-26 February. On 28 February, the Arakan Army captured the final junta outpost in Minbya Township, taking full control of the township.

Other fronts

While the KIA is very close military and political partners with the Three Brotherhood Alliance, being part of the Northern Alliance, it was not affected by the Chinese-brokered ceasefire. Combined forces of the KIA, ABSDF, and Kachin PDF (KPDF) captured the town of Mongmit on 19 January and neighboring Mabein on the 20th. The next day, 21 February, the KIA captured the strategically significant Man Wein Gyi base, on the route from Ruili, China, to Namkham. 3 days later, the KIA captured Nam Hpat Kar village after a month of fighting. On 25 January, Mongmit was recaptured by junta forces. Starting in late January, the KIA began intensifying attacks on Hpakant Township. On 20 January, the KIA captured a military camp southwest of Hpakant. On 2 February, the KIA and KPDF captured the Namtein outpost, threatening the road connecting Hpakant to the regional capital, Myitkyina. Also on that day, Kachin forces captured Ba Laung Dein Sar, Mansi Township. On 16 February, the KIA began attacking the Si Kham Gyi base, which has continually been held by the junta for 30 years. It was captured 4 days later.

After Operation 1027 and the Battle of Kawkareik in October, the KNLA continued to make gains throughout Karen State, Mon State, Bago Region, and Tanintharyi Region. On 29 January 2024, KNLA and PDF forces shot down a Tatmadaw Eurocopter AS365 as it was landing, killing Brigadier General Aye Min Naung of the 44th Light Infantry Division and four others. On 27 February, local PDF and KNLA forces claimed to have captured most of Myitta, Tanintharyi Region, 30 miles east of the region's capital Dawei. This came 4 days after an ambush killing 18 junta soldiers and capturing 5 vehicles, the deadliest attack on junta forces in Tanintharyi since 2021. By 29 February, KNLA and alligned Karen forces had captured half of Kawkareik township, having fire control over the now closed Myawaddy-Kawkareik highway.

On 14 February, combined forces of the Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defense Force captured the town of Shadaw after almost a month-long battle. This capture led Shadaw Township to be the second Kayah township completely captured by Karenni forces, after Mese.

Tensions rose between the junta and the Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF) as the Karen BGF refused orders from the junta to engage in battle. On 23 January, deputy commander-in-chief Soe Win visited Hpa-An to meet with Karen BGF leader Colonel Saw Chit Thu after the latter refused to come to the capital Naypyidaw and meet the junta.

Tatmadaw forces recaptured Kawlin on 10 February 2024 after almost 10 days of fighting. After this, junta forces razed the settlement, destroying the majority of homes within Kawlin. On 22 February, junta forces launched an offensive to recapture the town of Maw Luu, which had been captured by the KIA and ABSDF in December 2023.

New combatants

On 20 January 2024, the Tatamadaw and the Pa-O National Army (PNA) attempted to confiscate the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA)'s weapons. A few days later, firefight broke out in Hopong Township. PNLA retaliated with KNDF and local PDF forces and attacked the town of Hsi Hseng, Shan State eventually capturing it on 26 January 2024. On the same day, the PNLA's political wing formally revoked their participation in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, pledged to help the NUG replace the Junta with a federal system and implored the PNA's political wing to switch sides under the promise that they will not be attacked. On 22 February, clashes broke out east of Hopong after junta/PNA forces attacked PNLA forces. After several hours, junta forces were forced to retreat. Between 21 January and 24 February, junta shelling killed 40 civilians in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone, according to the Pa-O Youth Organization.

On 14 February 2024, a splinter group of the Mon National Liberation Army (who signed a ceasefire with the Tatmadaw), announced that they will no longer negotiate with the junta and will join hands with other revolutionary forces in Mon State.

On 20 February 2024, the Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) announced that it and its armed forces will join forces with the anti-junta resistance forces, shifting from its formerly neutral stance towards the military coup. Three days later, SSPP and the allied troops captured a military base between Hopong and Mong Pan.

Humanitarian impact and war crimes

The human rights situation in Myanmar has deteriorated substantially since the beginning of the civil conflict. The Burmese military has escalated its use of war crimes, including murder, sexual violence, torture, and the targeting of civilians. The junta has also seized the properties of political opponents as part of an intimidation strategy, impacting hundreds of families.

Since the onset of the civil conflict, both the Burmese military and resistance forces alike have used educational facilities as bases and detention sites. In 2021, over 190 violent attacks on schools were reported in 13 of Myanmar's states and regions. As of June 2022, 7.8 million children remained out of school.

Myanmar's public health system has effectively collapsed, and the civil war has worsened the country's food security crisis, with one in four people experiencing food insecurity. Poverty and food insecurity have disproportionately affected Myanmar's Dry Zone and the Irrawaddy delta regions, which account for over 80% of the country's agricultural area and are home to a third of the country's population.

As of September 2022, 1.3 million people had been internally displaced, and over 13,000 children have been killed. By March 2023, the UN estimated that since the coup, 17.6 million people in Myanmar required humanitarian assistance, while 1.6 million were internally displaced, and 55,000 civilian buildings had been destroyed.

In March 2023, Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported that armed conflict had continued to grow. He stated that they were investigating hundreds of incidents of houses being burnt and civilians, including children, being killed. Overall, 15.2 million people faced food insecurity.

Economic and procurement aspects

Economic impact

Economic conditions in Myanmar have substantially worsened due to the ongoing war and to economic mismanagement by the SAC. In 2021, Myanmar's GDP declined by 5.9%. In an interview, Christian Lechervy, the French ambassador to Myanmar, highlighted the impact of the coup on the country's economy: "In 2021, Myanmar's economic growth has contracted by more than 18%, poverty has doubled, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid has multiplied by seven and more than 450,000 people have been forced to flee their homes". Between March and June 2022, almost 10,000 people per month left the country through official channels, worsening the country's brain drain and mirroring the civilian exodus that followed the 1962 and 1988 military coups. The local job market has collapsed. At the end of July 2023, the SAC announced that it would issue a limited number of new 20,000 kyat banknotes. The announcement led to an increase in the price of gold, as well as in foreign currency exchange rates.

As of September 2022, the value of the Burmese kyat has depreciated by over 60%, while basic commodity prices have increased by up to 57%. The World Bank estimates Myanmar's economy will contract by another 18% in 2022.[needs update] Since April 2022, the country has experienced foreign currency shortages, which have acutely impacted importers, resulting in shortages of basic products like medicines and fertilisers. The military regime has imposed foreign currency controls, which has worsened the shortage of US dollars among international firms operating in the country. Many foreign and multinational companies, including Telenor, Ooredoo, Chevron, British American Tobacco, and Woodside Petroleum have exited the Burmese market as the conflict has intensified.

In September 2022, the G7-led Financial Action Task Force announced plans to blacklist Myanmar for failing to stem money laundering and terrorist financing. At that time, only Iran and North Korea were on the Financial Action Task Force blacklist. In October 2022, Myanmar was blacklisted by the task force, which increased volatility in the value of the Burmese kyat.

In early 2024, it was reported that the civil war had significantly increased prices of every day goods, such as rice (160-220%), fuel (520%), and palm oil (75%) from pre-war levels. Also, the Kyat to US dollar exchange rate had increased by 160%.

Interim Central Bank

The National Unity Government of Myanmar established an Interim Central Bank (ICB) led by their Planning, Finance and Investment minister, Tin Tun Naing. The goal of establishing this bank is to contest foreign reserves and assets held by the Central Bank in Naypitaw. It was also reported that the ICB seized 44 billion Kyats from other banks. Radio Free Asia explained in regards to Central Banks raising funds for their government; "The NUG has acknowledged raising over $150 million since the coup" and that "it dwarfs in comparison to the revenue of the junta, which gave itself a raise of 51 percent in FY2023 to $2.7 billion – it's not insignificant either."

Under the direction of the ICB there is a newly established for-profit bank called Spring Development Bank, with an intent to establish its own cryptocurrency.

Anti-junta forces weapons and equipment manufacturing

The limited possession of guns by ethnic insurgent movements along with the lack of international support and formal means of acquiring military material has presented the anti-junta forces with a challenging situation for the confrontation of the military regime. Faced with this difficulty since the early stages of armed insurgency, the resistance movement sought ways to manufacture the necessary weapons and equipment for the conflict. Initially, the rebels expanded the production of a traditionally made, single-shot rifle known as Tumi, especially in the Chin state. Nonetheless, this kind of rifle is severely limited for battleground action. For this reason, the fighters have developed alternative models which are more advanced, while still calling them Tumi. Since then, the resistance movement has developed many kinds of carbines, landmines and bomb drones, to be manufactured within the technological and material means of liberated territories and underground cells.

Commercially available drones rigged to carry bombs were used to attack military positions. PDF groups reportedly produced naval bombs to target government logistics in rivers. Meanwhile, defected soldiers developed 60 mm long-range mortars. The use of 3D printing was also reported, both to salvage weapons taken from the junta and for the improvised production of semiautomatic carbines. The success of Operation 1027 enabled the Brotherhood Alliance to seize enormous caches of arms and ammunition from the Tatmadaw, making it better equipped than before it launched Operation 1027.

Reactions

International organisations

 
NUG's UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun talks in an interview in 2022

In June 2021, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution asking member states to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar. 200 international organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have continued to press the UN and its member states to adopt a global arms embargo.

ASEAN and East Timor

 
Myanmar absent at the US-ASEAN Summit 2022 in Washington, D.C

ASEAN has blocked Myanmar from participating in regional summits since the 2021 coup. For instance, during the 2022 ASEAN summit, Myanmar's chair remained empty. ASEAN member-states have not taken a consistent, coordinated approach with respect to the ongoing civil war, due to internal divisions. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore are strongly opposed to the military junta.

Thailand was a key ally of the junta; former Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha used back-channel contacts in mid-2021 to shape Thailand's diplomatic options, especially as these related to ASEAN. On 30 June 2022, when the Myanmar Air Force allegedly violated Thai airspace, Thailand scrambled a defence attache. Later, Prayuth said that the incident was "not a big deal". After the 2023 Thai general election, the new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has shown support for the military's Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement urging all parties in Myanmar to stay on the path for peace and stability.

Singapore initially emphasised the importance of separating business from politics, but subsequently became wary of doing business with Myanmar. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the use of lethal force in the suppression of anti-junta protestors as "just not acceptable" and "disastrous". In 2022, Lee continued supporting the exclusion of the military regime from ASEAN meetings until the regime cooperates on ASEAN's peace plans. Currently, Singapore does not recognise the military junta. During the war, Singapore has remained a major equipment supplier for the junta's weapons factories. Several Singapore-based firms have also served as intermediary companies for the junta, collectively shipping 254 million US dollars worth of arms to the junta between 2021 and 2023.

As of December 2023, East Timor remains the only government to have openly expressed sympathies to the anti-regime forces in Myanmar. In August 2023, the State Administration Council expelled the East Timorese ambassador in retaliation for the East Timorese government meeting with the NUG.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh recognizes the military junta, but does not support its actions, in part because the Rohingya genocide has led to around 1 million Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh. In the first week of September 2020, Bangladeshi forces reported that the Tatmadaw started amassing troops and doing unusual buildups in three different locations on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. As a consequence, Bangladesh's foreign minister summoned Myanmar's ambassador, calling for him to desist from such activities and to work for mutually beneficial relations between the two countries. As a result, Bangladesh revealed that is ready to face any situation, deploying the 34 Border Guard Bangladesh battalion on the border with Myanmar. This battalion asked their counterparts to arrange a flag meeting but they received no response.

In August 2022, Bangladesh strongly protested territorial violations when two Myanmar Army mortar shells hit a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh and when a junta helicopter entered Bangladeshi airspace and fired a shell. Aung Kyaw Moe, the ambassador of Myanmar to Bangladesh, was summoned by the Bangladesh ministry of foreign affairs four times in 2022 due to multiple violations of Bangladesh's airspace in the Naikhongchhari border area by the Myanmar Army.

On 3 February 2024, intensifying clashes between the Arakan Army and Tatmadaw in Rakhine state lead to mortar shells and bullets landing in Bangladesh, injuring civilians and prompting local villagers to flee. Bangladeshi authorities closed schools and madrasas in border villages. As tensions increased, Bangladesh strengthened the Bangladesh Police and Bangladesh Coast Guard to be stationed to resist any intrusion through the borders. 327 Myanmar Border Guard Police personnel sought refuge in Bangladesh, where they were disarmed and sheltered by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). Two days later, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina instructed the Bangladesh Armed Forces and BGB to have patience regarding the situation in Myanmar. On 7 February BGB Director Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman Siddiqui recommended suspending the naval route to St. Martin's Island in Bangladesh due to the increasing border tensions, accordingly, sea travel to St. Martin's Island is indefinitely closed down by the district administration of Cox's Bazar from 10 February. On 8 February 2024, the Tatmadaw agreed to send a ship to take back the stranded BGP personnels in Bangladesh.

China

 
In 2023, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Myanmar's Foreign Minister Than Swe jointly meet the press after the eighth LMC Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Since the coup d'état, China and Russia have supported the military junta and have been its main arms suppliers. China is Myanmar's largest trading partner. China has also been accused of tacitly supporting the junta. China and Russia have blocked any substantive action against Myanmar's military at the United Nations Security Council, while the country's security forces have reportedly used Chinese and Russian-supplied weapons to perpetrate human rights violations. In December 2022, China's special envoy to Myanmar, Deng Xijun, engaged with the military junta in Naypyidaw. After his visit, the Burmese military pulled 30 battalions from the Northeastern Command, and redeployed them to launch major offensives against pro-democracy forces in other areas. However, concerns later grew over allegations of China no longer 'restraining' the influence of the insurgents, which some viewed as a response to the Burmese military's inaction over Chinese citizens being forced to work in scam centres in northern Shan state.

China is particularly sensitive to Western support for EAOs along the Burmese-Chinese border, and has moved to simultaneously support the military junta and powerful EAOs like the United Wa State Army, which has supported pro-democracy forces. In response to the BURMA Act passed by the United States in 2022, the Government of China increased diplomatic efforts to engage EAOs and the military junta, to protect Chinese business and geopolitical interests.

The fact that the Three Brotherhood Alliance's Operation 1027 in late 2023 was carried out near the China–Myanmar border may indicate a shift in China's stance. The status quo in that area had previously been guaranteed by a China-mediated ceasefire. This change in stance was attributed by analysts to concerns about cyber-scam centers, the pursuit of favorable concessions from the junta on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, and the opportunity to influence the PDF in light of evolving dynamics between NUG and EAO groups. On 13 November 2023, China issued arrest warrants for junta-aligned Ming Xuecheng and his family members for their involvement in online scamming operations. According to The Diplomat, this move signaled China's "tacit support for the removal of the Kokang SAZ's leadership". China issued more arrest warrants in December for 10 high-ranking Kokang officials and business leaders for being members of "family criminal gangs", including the founder of the Kokang region's Border Guard Forces, Bai Xuoqian.

On 6 December 2023, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged to "achieve domestic reconciliation" and "continue the political transformation process" in Myanmar during a meeting with Myanmar's Foreign Minister Than Swe. On 4 January 2024, which is Myanmar's Independence Day, China opted to remain silent and did not send a congratulatory message, unlike prior years when Chinese president Xi Jinping personally sent such congratulatory messages.

India

India, which represents Myanmar's fourth-largest export market and fifth-largest import partner, has continued a business-as-usual approach to cross-border relations and continues to recognize the military junta. State-owned and private Indian companies, including Yantra India, supplied arms and raw materials to the junta, enabling the military to conduct surveillance and boost its artillery and missile stocks. A 2023 UN report alleges that these arms were likely to be used in the commission of international crime and that companies have avoided sanctions through shell companies. The India–Myanmar border is 1,643 kilometres (1,021 mi) in length and runs from the tripoint with China in the north to the tripoint with Bangladesh in the south. Amid escalating clashes in Rakhine, India urged its citizens to avoid travel to Rakhine State in early February 2024.

Russia

 
Min Aung Hlaing meets Head Rais Rustam Minnikhanov of Tatarstan in Russia, June 2021

Russia has embraced deeper ties with the Burmese military junta, as the civil war has progressed. Russia has provided materiel, military training for over 50 Myanmar Air Force pilots, and diplomatic backing to the regime. Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia several times, personally meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in September 2022. The military junta backed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia was among the few countries to send a congratulatory message to the junta on Myanmar's Independence Day.

European Union and NATO countries

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union have, in response to the ongoing violence, sanctioned individuals and organisations associated with the Burmese military. However, the effectiveness of these sanctions has been undermined by poor coordination among the governments and the lack of sanctions against high-impact targets. As of February 2023, only 13% of Burmese sanctions targets were sanctioned by the US, the UK and the EU. Further, the UK and US governments have not sanctioned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which is the country's largest source of foreign currency. Burmese sanctions targets have also evaded international sanctions by channeling funds through affiliated firms. For instance, a subsidiary of Myanma Economic Holdings Limited, a sanctioned military-owned conglomerate, created a new affiliated firm to import palm oil.

On 23 December 2022, the U.S. Congress passed and U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act (BURMA Act) into law, which provides the president with additional discretionary authority to make policy changes with respect to Myanmar. The law enables the president to provide "non-lethal assistance" to NUG, EAOs, PDFs, and pro-democracy organisations, to provide humanitarian aid to the country, to impose new sanctions, including on MOGE, and enables the secretary of state to assist civilian and international entities with identifying and documenting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Myanmar.

See also

Notes

References

External links