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Satellites Show Buildup of Sudanese Military Strike Aircraft in Range of South Sudan and Evidence of Reported Looting in Heglig

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Satellites Show Buildup of Sudanese Military Strike Aircraft in Range of South Sudan and Evidence of Reported Looting in Heglig

Posted by Enough Team on April 23, 2012

Satellite Sentinel Project Press release


Contact: Jonathan Hutson, [email protected], +1-202-386-1618

WASHINGTON – The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has published new imagery confirming that the Government of Sudan has dramatically increased the number of military strike aircraft at two airbases and that many are in range to fly deep into South Sudan. SSP has also documented, through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, craters consistent with reports that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) aerially bombarded an apparent civilian area near a strategic bridge in Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, South Sudan.

SSP has also identified visual evidence consistent with reports of looting by Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and southern-aligned forces at a SAF military base in the disputed border town of Heglig. The destruction or seizure of enemy property may violate international law governing the conduct of land warfare.

SSP concluded that the military aircraft identified at Sudan’s airbases in El Obeid, North Kordofan, and Kadugli, South Kordofan, “may represent a significant portion” of SAF’s total combat-capable air assets. SSP states that at Sudan’s El Obeid airbase, it found five Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, five apparent MiG-29 fighters, three Nanchang Q-5 fighters, and three Antonov transport aircraft of the type that SAF reportedly uses as bombers. SSP also identified eight Mi-24 helicopter gunships, at SAF’s airbases in El Obeid and Kadugli.

Enough Project  Co-founder John Prendergast said:

The increased concentration of Sudanese army and air force firepower within striking distance of its border with South Sudan signifies that we may not have yet seen the worst of the fighting. It is imperative that crisis diplomacy be enhanced, in particular by finding a way for China and the US to work together in support of a negotiated stand-down. Ultimately, the only way full-scale war will be averted is if a comprehensive peace deal can be struck that addresses the issues dividing Sudan and South Sudan, creates a process to address the escalating civil war within Sudan, and ends proxy support to each other’s rebels. If any of these issues is left unaddressed, the Sudans will continue to burn.

Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy  Executive Director Charlie Clements, MD, said:

“This report documents evidence of disregard for basic laws of war by all parties to this widening conflict. All parties have responsibilities under international law to protect civilian lives and property.”

Read the latest SSP report, Escalation: Evidence of SAF and SPLA Combat Operations:

View or download DigitalGlobe satellite imagery:


About the Satellite Sentinel Project

The Satellite Sentinel Project,, combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google’s Map Maker to deter the resumption of full-scale civil war between North and South Sudan and to hold all parties accountable for human rights crimes. Not On Our Watch provided seed money to launch SSP. The Enough Project contributes field reports and policy analysis, and, together with Not On Our Watch, pressures policymakers by urging the public to act. Google and Trellon collaborated to design the web platform. Harvard Humanitarian Initiative provides research and leads the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualizes the imagery. DigitalGlobe provides satellite imagery and additional analysis.