South Sudan army (SPLA) on Sunday dismissed as unfounded reports alleging the military lost heavy weapons during recent clashes with the armed opposition forces in Upper Nile state.
The army spokesperson, Col. Santo Domic Chol said their forces have never confronted rebels ever since the president declared a unilateral ceasefire.
“All those reports in the social media are unfounded and baseless. The public should not rely on them. They are just part of propaganda by anti-peace elements. Our forces have not lost any weapons anywhere, let alone reports talking about losing tanks and other weapons,” Chol told the state-owned SSBC in a Sunday interview.
“It is not true and the public is advised not to rely on them [social media reports]”, he added.
The military spokesman further stressed that the SPLA remains fully committed to respecting orders made by President Salva Kiir, but will only respond to aggression from rebels in self-defense.
Chol’s response came in the wake of the armed opposition faction’s claims that their fighters clashed with pro-government forces in the Upper Nile region and this reportedly resulted in their forces taking over a town, which was previously held by pro-government forces.
The rebels claimed they captured three tanks, two land cruisers mounted with 12.7 mm AA machine guns, 24 Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG-7) launchers, 30 PKM and over 300 AK-47 rifles in good condition.
The rebels appealed to the international community to resuscitate the 2015 peace deal and free their leader from “unnecessary” confinement and detention in South Africa.
South Sudan has witnessed renewed clashes between forces loyal to South Sudan President Kiir and the armed opposition faction backing the country’s former First Vice-President, Riek Machar in spite of the August 2015 peace deal.
The young nation has become the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis with more than 1.8 million refugees, including one million children, having sought safety in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
Last month, two United Nations agencies appealed to donors to step up support for people fleeing South Sudan as the $1.4 billion response plan remains 86% unfunded.