Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dry season offensive expected

Dry season offensive expected

Dry season offensive expected

CONSCRIPTION and troop movements toward the military frontlines of O'Smach and Samlot

appear to be setting the stage for what is widely expected to be a dry season offensive.

"We have sent troops to the north and northwest. Under our government masterplan

we need to clear up our territory by March, before the [scheduled May] election,"

Ministry of Defense official Gen Khem Sophan told Reuters Nov 16.

Sophan was confident that 10,000 government troops will be able to stamp out opposition

forces - which he numbered at fewer than 3,000 - around the country.

An advisor to Funcinpec resistance chief Nhek Bun Chhay claimed last week that Phnom

Penh had recently sent 1,000 troops and seven tanks in preparation for another offensive

to try to capture O'Smach.

Bun Chhay, in a Nov 18 statement which denied that his forces had received "financial

or military assistance" from the Khmer Rouge, also spoke of a fresh government

offensive.

"It is very interesting that at a time when the United Nations arranges for

the return of exiled politicians... Hun Sen's regime implements a masterplan to liquidate

the legal Royal Cambodian Armed Forces by sending reinforcements to the border area

and in so doing prepares to continue the civil war in Cambodia," said Bun Chhay,

who maintains that his forces are the legal Cambodian army.

Meanwhile, resistance forces were reported to have launched attacks against O'Baichoan,

on the Thai border about 20km northeast of the Banteay Meanchey trading town of Poipet,

in recent days. The resistance claimed to have recaptured the area, which was lost

to the government after brief fighting in late July.

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