The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been accused of widespread abuses in Sudan, including the 3 June massacre in which more than 120 people were reportedly killed, with many of the dead dumped in the River Nile. Sudan expert Alex de Waal charts their rise.
The RSF are now the real ruling power in Sudan. They are a new kind of regime: a hybrid of ethnic militia and business enterprise, a transnational mercenary force that has captured a state.
Their commander is General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, and he and his fighters have come a long way since their early days as a rag-tag Arab militia widely denigrated as the “Janjaweed”.
The RSF was formally established by decree of then-President Omar al-Bashir in 2013. But their core of 5,000 militiamen had been armed and active long before then.