The head of Sudan’s army has told Sky News his troops will “definitely” defeat an attacking paramilitary group, but he is open to negotiations.
At least 97 civilians and 45 soldiers have been killed with a total of 942 injured since the clashes between the military and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted at the weekend, according to activist group the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.
Tensions have escalated since a power pact between the two sides crumbled and the resulting violence has seen members of the public caught in the crossfire, with the fighting spreading from the capital Khartoum to other parts of the country.
Speaking to Sky News, army chief and de facto leader Abdel Fattah al Burhan said he was open to mediation as “every war ends at the negotiation table even if the opponent is defeated”.
He added: “Even if there is surrender, there is still negotiation.”
Asked if his troops will defeat the RSF, Mr al Burhan said: “Definitely. God willing.”
He was speaking from the military headquarters compound in the presidential guesthouse in Khartoum. He said the area within the compound was “fully secure” and “we are well”.
But he said there were “stray” shells being fired by the RSF who are “escalating” the situation in “nearby commercial and residential areas”.
He added: “We are holding back because we don’t want too many civilian losses in residential areas.”
Witnesses said bombardments and strikes from fighter jets rocked the capital, including near the military headquarters, and in Bahri, across the Nile River near another base.
The United Nations Security Council is set to discuss the Sudan violence on Monday, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the fighting, calling on both sides to stop hostilities and start talking.
“I urge all those with influence over the situation to use it in the cause of peace; to support efforts to end the violence, restore order, and return to the path of transition,” he said.
The humanitarian situation in the country was “already precarious” but it is now “catastrophic”, the UN chief added.
The RSF is a former militia group which had been due to merge with the army and its leaders shared power in a ruling military council.
Mr al Burhan heads the council while RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is his deputy. Both sides said they made gains on Monday.
The RSF claimed it had captured an airport and military bases, while the army said it was in control of its headquarters despite what it called “limited clashes” in the area.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr al Burhan claimed his forces have “full control of all RSF bases in the 18 states and all of our airfields”.
“All the airfields of the armed forces are under the control of the armed forces.”
The RSF has posted videos showing its soldiers in Merowe airport, between Khartoum and the border with Egypt, and in a base in a southern district of the capital and in part of a military headquarters in the city centre.
The army has regained control of the main television station, which briefly went off air after gunfire was heard during a live broadcast.
The station started showing videos of the army destroying RSF vehicles, a day after the RSF said it had taken over the building.
Egypt is the most important backer of Sudan’s armed forces, while Hemedti has cultivated links with several foreign powers including the United Arab Emirates and Russia.