Days after a rebel alliance launched an offensive in Chad, sweeping westward toward the capital of N’Djamena, the tide appeared to be turning against the rebels in the eastern Chadian town of Am Zoer. FRANCE 24 Correspondent A.Zajtman reports.
Earlier this week, the Chadian army claimed a “decisive” victory in Am Zoer, a little town that lies not far from the Sudanese border. Rebel spokesmen however have denied the government’s claim.
According to a spokesman for the National Alliance, an umbrella group of rebels opposed to Chadian President Idriss Deby, the alliance had lost just 27 men in Wednesday’s offensive in Am Zoer, disputing the Chadian government’s claims of 160 rebels killed in the operation.
Rebels’ worst nightmare: Conventional military offensive
Nonetheless, the latest fighting spree in the troubled central African country appears to have turned in favour of Deby.
Backed by combat helicopters, Chad’s regular army brought the rebel advance to a halt on Wednesday in the rugged terrain surrounding the little border town.
In a matter of hours, the Chadian army inflicted a battle scenario the rebels - who are well versed in guerrilla tactics - had appeared desperate to avoid: a conventional military confrontation.
Reporting from N’Djamena, FRANCE 24’s special correspondent Arnaud Zajtman said rebel troops appeared to have paid the price for the “lack of coordination” among the diverse groups that comprise the National Alliance.
All eyes on the monsoon rains
Since they launched their latest offensive, June 11, Chadian rebels had swept through the towns of Goz Beida, Am-Dam, Biltine and Am Zoer in rapid succession.
At first, their progress met with little resistance from government forces, as Chadian government officials dismissed the offensive as a “publicity stunt”. Early this week, however, Chad’s army moved into action against the rebels.
Yet, while the government appears to have won the first round of the battle, in N’Djamena “neither the population, nor the regime of President Idriss Deby, are feeling particularly safe,” said Zajtman. According to Zajtman, there is a prevailing fear that the rebel offensive would resume once the monsoon season, which extends from from July to November in Chad, comes to an end.
Date created : 2008-06-20