Special Operation Force fighters after the seizure of Paya Taung outpost on September 28. / SOF
The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 6, the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), has seized more Myanmar junta outposts in southern Karen State.
Resistance forces have seized at least seven junta bases since May, including strategic camps like Thay Baw Boe and Maw Khee.
On September 28, the KNLA and Special Operation Force (SOF), which is under the command of the civilian National Unity Government, besieged a junta base near Paya Taung village outside Payathonsu, a border town in southern Karen State.
The SOF said at least 30 junta troops were stationed at the outpost and were tormenting residents.
Junta troops at the outpost belong to Light Infantry Battalion 283, which is based in Kyainseikgyi on a trade route linking Payathonsu and Kawkareik.
“We fired for around 15 minutes and told them to surrender. We waited around 45 minutes but they shot back continuously. As they didn’t come out, we crushed them in close combat,” an SOF information officer told The Irrawaddy.
Thirteen junta soldiers, including the second-in-command, were killed and an estimated 17 others fled the outpost, said the KNU in Dooplaya District and the SOF.
Paya Taung villagers fled, fearing a junta air attack.
KNLA troops also torched a junta outpost at Azin village in the east of Kyainseikgyi Township on September 27.
Despite its failed attempt to seize the Ukayit Hta outpost in the south of Myawaddy Township in June, the KNLA has since seized other junta outposts.
In early September, KNLA Brigade 6 seized an outpost in Kyeik village in the east of Kyainseikgyi Township where troops from Light Infantry Battalion 557 were stationed.
The regime has not yet responded to KNU attacks in Dooplaya District, which is controlled by KNLA Brigade 6, said a senior KNU officer.
“I don’t know what their problems are. They haven’t yet launched attacks [to retake lost outposts]. Previously, they would respond immediately if an outpost was seized but they are not responding at all now. I don’t know if they are undermanned or if they are waiting for the dry season,” the officer said.
Former captain Lint Htet Aung, who defected after the 2021 coup, said the situation has not changed much in Karen State, despite the appointment of a new commander.
On August 19, the Northern Command chief Brigadier General Myat Thet Oo switched positions to lead the Southeastern Command, which oversees Karen State.
Capt Lin Htet Aung: “The junta can’t 100 percent control its ground troops. They are in poor spirits and don’t want to fight. There have been surrenders and defections at the front line. And the number of soldiers being arrested has increased.”
He said the resistance forces did not rush to attack the Karen outposts but cut off supply routes and besieged them.
The resistance forces were growing stronger as the regime weakened, Capt Lin Htet Aung said. The regime was unable to carry out immediate air raids in response to KNU attacks on the Kyeik and Paya Taung outposts, he said.
“Many clashes are happening across the country every day and the junta does not have the resources to provide air power everywhere,” he said.
The regime, however, is far from complete destruction and still benefits from air superiority, the defecting officer warned.