South Sudan’s rebels slam UK-based military research agency over weapons charges

Addis Ababa, June 2, 2015 (SSNA) — South Sudanese rebel military command under the leadership of South Sudan’s former vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, dismissed as “baseless” claim that the Sudan’s government has been supplying its armed forces with Sudanese and Chinese made weapons and ammunition.

Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a UK-based military research institution which investigates weapons trafficking in active conflicts around the world, on Tuesday released a report, accusing Khartoum of giving military aid to South Sudanese rebels.

The report, which has already been refuted by the SPLA-In Opposition, said evidence it collected during its investigation showed that Sudan had airdropped weapons and ammunition to rebel-held territories between September and October of 2014.

"These weapons had a number of features identical to those we documented on other weapons that Sudan supplied to other previous groups fighting the Juba government before the current fighting broke out in 2013," lead investigator Claudio Gramizzi told the Associated Press.

The agency also alleged that its finding revealed the weapons “sustained heavy impact damage” because they were dropped from the air.

"I think we can surely confirm the fact that this equipment was airdropped. This comes not only from the reports of (South Sudanese) forces who worked with us but also from the fact that most of the equipment was deformed or bent due to the impact of the landing,” Gramizzi said.

Meanwhile, the rebel military command has denied CAR’s finding, saying the London-based weapons and ammunition investigation group use rumors as evidence in its finding and that only Juba and its allies will buy it.

“The report itself is not credible and we consider it as a rumor-driven finding; only Juba’s regime and its supporters will accept such a report. The story is baseless becuase it is based on weapons we have captured from Juba’s genocidal regime. If CAR wants to be an impartial military research group, then, let it go to Juba and tracks regime’s weapons and ammunition there and see where they come from,” the visibly furious rebel military official Johnson Wal Hoth told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

When questioned by the SSNA to explain why the armed opposition thinks the report is baseless, Johnson teasingly replied by telling the SSNA team to mind its own business and to contact Juba and Kampala for an answer.

“You guys shouldn’t come here and ask me about all these nonsense questions. I think you should go to Juba and Kampala to get your answer, or may be CAR should answer your questions too,” Johnson jokingly told the SSNA.

The rebel military official went further, accusing unnamed foreign professionals of acting against the SPLM/A-IO.

“It has become clear to us that there are some foreign elements with academic hoods acting as hard-core supporters of Kiir’s regime. We are also aware that these people are the same foreigners who in many ways helped South Sudan during its armed struggle against Khartoum; the SPLM/A-IO will soon unmask their faces,” he asserted.

Both Khartoum and Juba have been constantly accusing each other of giving military support to rebels in their respective countries. They deny each other’s claims.

Conflict Armament Research says its investigation teams work in active armed conflicts, documenting weapons at the point of use and track their sources back through the chains of supply, according to a statement on its official website.

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