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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06NDJAMENA1423 2006-12-14 15:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

CHAD:MAJOR BATTLES FOUGHT IN EAST

Tags:   PREL PREF PGOV CD SU 
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VZCZCXRO5434
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHNJ #1423/01 3481558
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 141558Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4694
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0892
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 001423 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2016
TAGS: PREL PREF PGOV CD SU
SUBJECT: CHAD:MAJOR BATTLES FOUGHT IN EAST

REF: NDJAMENA 1416

Classified By: POLOFF DAN VERNON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)



1. (C) Summary: The Chadian government has announced that
Chadian rebels have been decisively vanquished in the latest
round of battles in Biltine and Hadjer Marfaine and pushed
back into Sudan. French Ambassador Foucher seconded the
GOC's claim that the opposition had been crushed in a
conversation with the Ambassador December 13. Both sides are
claiming victory, and hard numbers of dead and wounded may be
impossible to obtain. But it is clear that the loss of
prominent rebel defector, General Seby Aguid, was a blow to
the Zaghawa RaFD rebel group. The extent to which rebel
movements are able to regroup, put aside differences and
coordinate their actions is still key to their continued
threat to the Deby regime. According to the French, the SCUD
movement has divided, with half returning to the government
side. End summary.



--------------------------


The Battle of Biltine


--------------------------





2. (SBU) President Idriss Deby Itno left N'djamena for
Abeche on December 6 to personally oversee the ANT's defense
of eastern Chad. After rebel forces (UFDD) briefly occupied
Biltine December 7, subsequent fighting December 9-10 in
Arada (some 40 kilometers west of Biltine) appeared to result
in heavy government losses. According to the ICRC and other
humanitarian aid workers, several truckloads of Chadian Army
(ANT) casualties were taken into Abeche and some 150 injured
soldiers were being treated there. NGOs considered the
fighting to have been the heaviest seen thus far. The
Biltine has been evacuated and all civil servants said to
have fled to N'Djamena.



--------------------------


Fighting in Hadjer Marfaine


--------------------------





3. (SBU) The next scene of major fighting was the Hadjer
Marfaine mountain range. According to an Embassy contact,
the December 12 fighting in Hadjer Marfaine began as an
assault on UFDD rebels by two columns of the Chadian army,
which reportedly included its stronger elements. One column
was sent to target Nouri's UFDD elements in Hadjer Marfaine,
and another was sent to confront Timan Erdimi's RaFD in Adre.
The latter ANT column was reportedly reinforced by elements
of the Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM),
allied to President Deby, which had arrived from Guereda.
While the initial assault met with success, the rebels
regrouped and counter-attacked forcefully. The ensuing
battle was said to have been "chaotic," as neither side could
discern their own troops from those of the enemy. During the
fighting, General Seby Aguid, a high-level defector loyal to
Erdimi, was killed as was Mahamat Bourdami, reported to be a
relatively high ranking GOC officer.



4. (C) Following that battle, the Chadian Government claimed
on December 13 that the ANT had launched a decisive attack
against the "mercenaries," pushed them back into Sudan and
totally destroyed their bases. The GOC reported publicly
that ANT forces had chased rebels 20 kilometers into Sudan
(reftel). Speaking privately to the Ambassador, French
Ambassador Foucher called it a "total victory" of the Chadian
army against rebel forces. He also stated that the SCUD had
been "cut in two," with some returning to fight on the
government side. Final numbers from the battle vary widely,
with some contacts reporting over 400 ANT and 100 rebels
killed. For its part, the government is claiming 700 rebel
dead. These numbers are impossible to verify.



--------------------------


Rebel Prospects


--------------------------





5. (C) Embassy sources have reported that, angered by the
death of his top military ally (Aguid) during the recent
fighting and by the recent death of his own son Hamdul - and
aware of his own limited military capabilities - Erdimi has
decided to develop an alliance with Nouri to combat the Deby
regime. Another report suggests that the rebel losses in the
past week were such that a new offensive may not prove
possible before the rainy season. Nouri was heard in an
interview with Radio France International December 14 denying
defeat, admitting only that his forces had pulled back
temporarily and claiming they intended to continue their
attacks.


NDJAMENA 00001423 002 OF 002




--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





6. (C) It appears that the recent string of battles in the
east concluded in the GOC's favor, even though casualties
were sustained on both sides. While both sides will need
some time to regroup and rearm, the GOC has greater access to
new supplies and fresh recruits. If the indications are
correct that relations between Nouri and Erdimi are
improving, the question now is whether that alliance can be
sustained -- and whether it will constitute a serious threat
to the GOC.



7. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.
WALL