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1 February 2023

Increasing use of airstrikes in Myanmar

Airstrikes in Myanmar

Since the February 2021 coup, the Myanmar military has violently suppressed political opposition, set villages alight, and used disproportionate violence against civilians. As the Myanmar military struggles to exert control over areas of resistance, air strikes have become a key part of their offensive.

Myanmar Witness has released a report which provides insight into the modus operandi of the Myanmar military. Through a quantitative study, Myanmar Witness has identified 135 airwar incidents (AWIs) over the six month period investigated. As each incident almost certainly represents more than a single air strike, it is clear that the Myanmar military’s airwar is fast becoming omnipresent in the lives of the people of Myanmar. Air strikes are an almost daily occurrence.

The areas with the highest concentration of airstrike allegations correspond with areas of known resistance to the Myanmar military. The highest number of airstrikes were reported in the Sagaing region (စစ်ကိုင်းတိုင်းဒေသကြီး), followed by Kayin state (ကရင်ပြည်နယ်), Kachin state (ကချင်ပြည်နယ်) and Chin state (ချင်းပြည်နယ်) - all areas of notably active local defence forces.

On at least three occasions, the Myanmar military have breached the airspace of neighbouring countries, and on two occasions airstrikes impacted the territorial sovereignty of India and Bangladesh.

This investigation reveals that the Myanmar military is heavily reliant upon aircraft manufactured abroad - namely Russian or Chinese air assets - for its almost daily attacks. The Russian-manufactured Mi-35 was the most sighted aircraft within reports of airstrikes collected by Myanmar Witness.

Read Myanmar Witness’ report for more information.

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