Bangkok, Dec. 2: About two weeks into a major offensive against Myanmar's military-run government by an alliance of three well-armed militias of ethnic minorities, an army captain, fighting in a jungle area near the northeastern border with China, lamented that he'd never seen such intense action.
His commander in Myanmar's 99th Light Infantry Division had been killed in fighting in Shan state the week before and the 35-year-old career soldier said army outposts were in disarray and being hit from all sides.
"I have never faced these kinds of battles before," the combat veteran told The Associated Press by phone. "This fighting in Shan is unprecedented." Eight days later the captain was dead himself, killed defending an outpost and hastily buried near where he fell, according to his family.
The coordinated offensive in the northeast has inspired resistance forces around the country to attack, and Myanmar's military is falling back on almost every front. The army says it's regrouping and will regain the initiative, but hope is rising among opponents that this could be a turning point in the struggle to oust the army leaders who toppled democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi almost three years ago.
"The current operation is a great opportunity to change the political situation in Myanmar, " said Li Kyar Win, spokesperson for the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, or MNDAA, one of the three militias known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance that launched the offensive on Oct. 27.
"The goal and purpose of the alliance groups and other resistance forces are the same," he told the AP. "We are trying to eliminate the military dictatorship." (AP)