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A rebel alliance in Myanmar scored a series of battlefield victories against the country’s military government, an offensive that many observers believe is the biggest threat to the ruling junta since it seized power almost three years ago, the Washington Post reported.
On Oct. 27, the Three Brotherhood Alliance launched a surprise offensive in the northern state of Shan, which borders China. The alliance said it captured more than 100 military outposts and took control of a number of major highways and border crossings.
The 10-day campaign has reportedly displaced tens of thousands of people, as well as disrupted business and travel between Shan and China. Analysts said the disruptions would block a major source of funding for the junta and further strain the army’s relationship with China, one of its few remaining allies.
In a rare admission, army officials said it had lost control of three towns in Shan and the border with China. Junta leader Myint Swe said the country could split “if the government does not effectively manage the incidents happening in the border region,” according to the Global New Light of Myanmar news outlet.
The offensive comes as Myanmar’s military junta continues to fight a multi-front civil war with various rebel groups nearly three years after it ousted the country’s democratically elected government.
The Three Brotherhood Alliance is comprised of three armed ethnic groups that initially remained neutral after the military takeover in February 2021. But tensions rose over the junta’s increase in attacks nationwide and also the spread of illicit activities in military-controlled areas.
Security analysts said that many of the armed groups are individually too small to beat the military, but they have shown an unprecedented level of cooperation over the past few weeks.
Leaders and supporters of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement praised the offensive as a turning point in the war. Even so, some observers were cautious, saying the rebel groups are operating in their own interests and their ties with the country’s pro-democracy movement are shaky.