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US Sanctions High-Ranking RSF Leader

Smoke billows over residential buildings in Khartoum on April 30, 2023

CAIRO — The United States imposed sanctions Wednesday on a Sudanese paramilitary commander Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo over acts of violence and human rights abuses committed by his troops in their monthslong conflict with Sudan's army.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury said it had sanctioned Abdelrahim — a senior military commander and brother of Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo who is the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, RSF— accusing him of leading a group of soldiers responsible for “the massacre of civilians, ethnic killings, and use of sexual violence.

According to Wednesday's statement, the sanctions will block all U.S. property and entities owned by Abdelrahim.

Wednesday’s sanction is the first targeting an individual and made public by the U.S. since the conflict broke out.

In a parallel statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. was also imposing visa restrictions on fellow RSF commander, Abdul Rahman Juma, barring him from entering the country.

Blinken said forces led by Juma were likewise responsible for rights abuses, including the kidnap and murder of the former governor of West Darfur province, Khamis Abbakar, and his brother, in June. Khamis was killed hours after he accused the paramilitary and allied militias of attacking local communities across West Darfur's capital, Genena, during a telephone interview with the Saudi-owned television station, Al-Hadath.

In June, the U.S. imposed sanctions against four key companies either linked to or owned by the army and the RSF. It also placed visa restrictions on officials from both Sudanese sides, as well as leaders from the former government led by ousted President Omar al-Bashir. It did not specify which individuals were affected.

There was no immediate comment from the RSF. A spokesman for the paramilitary force, when contacted by the Associated Press, said they would send a written statement later today.

Last month, Amnesty International said both sides have committed extensive war crimes in the ongoing conflict.

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide, expressed concern at ongoing “identity-based attacks” across the country.

“Innocent civilians are being targeted on the basis of race” in Darfur, Nderitu said in a statement. These attacks could amount to war crimes, she added.