M23 Announces Intention to “Liberate” Sake, DRC

“The M23 is Coming”

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) M23 rebels have stated that “the M23 is coming to liberate” the DRC town of Sake, a key town in the North Kivu province, after repeated accusations against the government and Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention force of carrying out strikes against civilian targets in M23 held territory.

They stated their intention to “silence that heavy artillery, drones, and combat tanks that are shelling continuously our compatriots, killing and displacing many of them”.

They further added a direction to civilians in Sake to “remain calm, and carry on with their business”. With fighting going on around the town for several days now, several thousand people have evacuated the city.

Fighting around Sake has cut off the last remaining road to Goma, a city of two million people and the regional capital of North Kivu. The isolation of Goma presents a significant logistical challenge for the DRC’s military, as well as leaves it vulnerable to attack from the M23. Sake is located only 25km from Goma, leaving the M23 well within range to push Goma.

However, the M23 has stated it does not intend to capture Goma, as it did in 2012 and almost did again in 2022, but rather that it only seeks to “silence” the guns which it claims are attacking civilians.

Renewed War

After a ceasefire came into effect in December of 2023, conflict between the DRC and the M23 again broke out on January 16th after the DRC and SADC launched an attack on the M23 aiming to dislodge the groups hold on several key areas, and defeat them. While the attack began with the assassination of two M23 commanders, it has since faced a series of setbacks as the M23 began pushing the DRC back and capturing several key territories.

The threatened capture of Sake represents a significant escalation in the war that has already displaced millions of people, with tens of thousands having been displaced since combat resumed in January.

New weapons have also been spotted, with an internal UN document claiming to have spotted a Rwandan Surface to Air Missile System within the M23’s territory, which the UN claimed fired upon a UN observation drone.

Several international entities, including the UN, US, UK, DRC, and more have all accused Rwanda of supporting the M23, which Rwanda has continually denied, instead accusing the DRC of attempting to use Rwanda as a scapegoat due to it’s “inability to solve its own problems”.

Alleged Rwandan support of the M23 ranges from material and financial support, to even deploying troops to fight alongside the M23.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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