The situation in Darfur looks very similar to the situation prior to the May 5 peace agreement. On August 28 UN and African sources reported that Sudan government forces and government-backed militias have launched a "major offensive" in Darfur. The ground troops were backed by helicopters and Antonov transport aircraft used as bombers. The offensive was intended to attack rebel groups in Sudan's North Darfur State, specifically the National Redemption Front (NRF). The NRF consists of several small rebel factions that did not sign the May 5 peace deal. The new offensive may be an attempt by the Sudan government to "finish the war" before the UN arrives.
If that is indeed the aim, it doesn't look like the Sudan government will succeed. One of the rebel groups that did sign the May 5 peace agreement has now denounced the Sudan government and indicated the offensive puts the entire peace agreement was at risk. The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) Minni Minnawi faction called on the African Union (AU) and UN to "urge the Sudan government" to halt its military operations in North Darfur. Why? Because the government aerial bombing campaign is indiscriminately bombing villages and killing civilians. The AU has said at least 20 civilians have been killed in the North Darfur offensive and that over a thousand people have fled the area.
The attacks are not confined to "rebel areas" in North Darfur. Small-scale attacks on people, camps, and vehicles continue to occur. Twelve humanitarian aid workers have died in Darfur since the May 5 peace deal. Any attacks on civilians usually indicates an attack by the Sudan government-backed Janjaweed militia. Attacks on aid workers are designed to force NGOs to abandon food and health aid operations which aid the civilians.
September 7, 2006: Some fifty men on horseback attacked a group of civilians outside of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.
September 4, 2006: The African Union issued a statement that said it will pull its peacekeeping troops out of Darfur by September 30 if Sudan does not end its opposition to a UN-led peacekeeping force. The Sudan government officially told the AU it would have to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent by September 30 if the AU agreed to let the UN take over control of the peacekeeping mission.
September 3, 2006: Nigeria airlifted 680 troops into Darfur. The troops serve with the AU's peacekeeping mission. The troops were part of Nigeria's "rotation policy" and replace a Nigerian battalion that had been in Darfur for six months. The AU force remains at a strength of approximately 7,500 peacekeepers and policemen.
There was very heavy fighting near the North Darfur village of Kulkul (approximately 50 kilometers north of the town of El Fasher).
September 1, 2006: A Red Cross aid worker was killed in an attack on a Red Cross health center in Hashaba (North Darfur). The health center was also looted.
August 31, 2006: The UN Security Council passed a resolution that called for deploying a UN-led peacekeeping operation in Sudan's Darfur region (UNSCR 1706). The UN force would consist of at least 17,500 troops and 3,300 civilian police. There is a hitch to the UN resolution: Sudan has to approve of the UN-led force. Sudan rejected the UN resolution.
August 27, 2006: The Sudan government said that it rejected an UN participation in peacekeeping operations in Darfur and that a draft UN resolution was an illegal imposition on Sudan's sovereignty. The Sudan government also said that it would oppose an move by the AU to transfer its peacekeeping contingent to a UN-led force. The AU peacekeeping mandate ends on September 30.
The government seems intent on killing, or driving away (from their farmland), as many non-Arab Sudanese as possible in Darfur, while using its support from the Arab League to prevent the UN from actually sending peacekeepers to stop this ethnic cleansing (the attackers are Sudanese-Arab herders, the victims are non-Arab Sudanese farmers). African Union attempts to help the non-Arab Sudanese (who are black African tribes) are also stalled by Arab League opposition, and a lack of resources (money to transports and supply peacekeepers). The 7,500 African Union peacekeepers now in Darfur could easily be overwhelmed and chased out by the Sudanese army and pro-government militias.