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Thailand Send Fighter Jets to Protect Border as Fighting Escalates in Myanmar

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Thailand Send Fighter Jets to Protect Border as Fighting Escalates in Myanmar
Two Royal Thai Air Force F-16 aircraft fly in formation April 12, 2024, as a part of the aerial mission to protect the border Photo: RTA

Thailand’s Prime Minister has directed the Air Force and Army to secure the border with Myanmar and not allow any Junta military aircraft to enter Thai airspace or soldiers to cross land borders as hostilities escalated across the border.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated that army chief Gen. Charoenchai Hinthao had informed him of the situation along the Thailand—Myanmar border, saying, ” Everything remains under control” as of Friday.

He also asked the air force chief, ACM Phanpakdee Pattanakul, to prevent Myanmar military aircraft from trespassing into Thai airspace. “If the war in Myanmar crosses over into Thailand, it is untenable.

Military aircraft intruding into Thai airspace is likewise unacceptable,” he stated. He also stated that the government had plans in place to deal with an expected inflow of Myanmar people fleeing the violence across the border into Thailand.

Myanmar Military

Some 200 Myanmar military personnel withdrew to a bridge connecting the border town of Myawaddy to Thailand on Thursday – Photo Myanmar Now.

Thailand Cautions Myanmar Military

ACM Phanpakdee stated that he had asked the Myanmar air force commander to guarantee that military aircraft from Myanmar did not breach Thai airspace. According to ACM Phanpakdee, the Myanmar Air Force head will visit Thailand next month.

He said the RTAF’s air defense and radar systems have been monitoring Myanmar’s aerial operations and have yet to discover any danger to Thailand’s security.

ACM Phanpakdee further stated that he had instructed Wing 4 in Nakhon Sawan’s Takhli area to have a squadron of F-16 fighter jets ready for take-off in 15 minutes in an emergency.

He said daily combat air patrol activities occur along the border and near sensitive locations.

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara visited the Mae Sot district of Tak province on Friday, close across the Moei River from Myawaddy, to examine the situation after Myanmar’s embattled junta lost more ground in the current fighting.

Pol Gen Roy Ingkapairote, secretary-general of the National Security Council, and military representatives accompanied him.

On Friday, a torrent of refugees, some fearing air attacks, gathered at a border crossing to depart Myanmar, a day after the strategically important town of Myawaddy fell to anti-junta rebel groups that are growing in strength.

The town’s loss deprives the junta, which is already dealing with a collapsing economy, of important border trade earnings while empowering rebel organizations such as the Karen National Union (KNU), which led the attack on Myawaddy, analysts claim.

Junta spokeswoman Zaw Min Tun informed Myanmar media that some of its troops had surrendered because their families accompanied them, and that talks with Thailand about their repatriation were ongoing.

Myanmar civil war

A Myanmar protester holds an image of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing during an anti-coup march in February 2023. Photo Myanmar Now.

Myanmar in a civil war

Myanmar has been in crisis since 2021, when the powerful military toppled an elected civilian government, sparking huge protests that it attempted to quell with harsh force.

Simmering rage against the junta has morphed into a countrywide armed resistance movement that is increasingly working in tandem with established ethnic rebel organizations to confront the military over significant portions of the country.

After the KNU claimed possession of Myawaddy, approximately 200 Myanmar military men withdrew to a bridge connecting to Mae Sot on Thursday.

However, Dulyapak Preecharush, an associate professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, believes the Myanmar military may attempt to retake the town with the help of its air force.

“So there is a question about the possible intensification of fighting in the coming days,” he said.

As the conflict in Myanmar escalated, the number of people crossing into Thailand via Mae Sot from Myawaddy increased this week to almost 4,000 per day.

According to Sanya Phetset, chairman of Mae Sot district, over 10,000 Myanmar citizens escaping the conflict have found temporary shelter at four local temples. A sports stadium in Mae Sot has also been set up as a shelter for Thai evacuees affected by the violence.

The gate at the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Tambon Tha Sai Luad reopened on Friday, allowing truckers and automobiles stranded on both sides of the border on Thursday to return to their home countries.

Rebel forces took control of the Infantry Battalion 275 garrison in Myawaddy on Thursday, forcing the border post to close.

Following the seizure of the garrison, approximately 200 Myanmar forces fled to the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge on the Myanmar side of the border, causing Thai officials to block the border.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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