According to ethnic militants in western Myanmar, they have successfully taken control of a significant town situated on a major road leading to India.
Paletwa, in Chin State, has reportedly been captured by the Arakan Army (AA), one of three rebel factions that began a fresh, massive attack against the government forces in October.
The Indian capital would be careful about events unfolding in Paletwa because of its proximity to the Myanmar-India and Bangladesh borders. This village is part of a larger, multi-million dollar development project that India is funding to provide better connections to the outlying areas.
The AA has been fighting the military and making gains in Rakhine State and portions of neighboring Chin State for several years; it is one of the most recent and well-equipped ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar. The AA fighters had already achieved considerable progress in Rakhine before the military seized power in February 2021. It asserted 60% control of the state two years ago.
However, during the 2021 coup, it was observing a truce; thus, the army steered clear of conflicts with it to focus on quelling resistance to the coup.
But in October of last year, the AA declared its intention to join the Brotherhood Alliance in the fight against military authority, and assaults were begun against a military already stretched thin by the resistance to its takeover across the nation.
Along the Chinese border, the alliance has dealt a string of crushing setbacks to the military over the last eleven weeks.
After 42 days of warfare in 2020, the AA failed to seize the hilltop base at Meewa, the final military position in Paletwa township. On the final Saturday, however, they succeeded on the other side of the nation.
Now that it has taken control of the Kaladan River port of Paletwa, the AA has a logistical base from which it can launch more operations in Rakhine State and controls both land and marine transport to the Indian border.
If the rebels were to capture even one of Rakhine’s significant towns, it would severely damage the military’s credibility.
The junta’s ability to boost morale within its ranks and convince its troops to persist in the face of mounting resistance is the most pressing concern after the loss of Paletwa.