Sudan’s army chief was headed to Turkey Wednesday on his fifth foreign visit since late August as he vies for legitimacy in a devastating power struggle with his former deputy.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who has been de facto head of state since he led a 2021 coup, will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on “bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them,” said the Sudanese leader’s office.

Until late last month, al-Burhan had been holed up under siege in army headquarters in Khartoum ever since fighting erupted on April 15 between his loyalists and fighters of the paramilitary Rapid Military Support Forces (RSF) led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

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From his new base in the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan, he has since visited Egypt, South Sudan, Qatar and Eritrea in what analysts say is a diplomatic push to burnish his credentials in the event of negotiations to end the conflict.

The fighting, which has already killed nearly 7,500 people, according to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, showed no sign of any letup Wednesday, particularly in the key battlegrounds of Khartoum and the Darfur region.

“Airstrikes which hit two markets in (South Darfur state capital) Nyala caused civilian casualties,” a witness told AFP by telephone.

Al-Burhan’s regular army is the only party to the conflict with an air force.

On Tuesday, shelling by RSF fighters killed at least 17 civilians in North Khartoum, across the Blue Nile from the capital, witnesses said.

The war has uprooted more than five million people, including one million who fled across borders, according to United Nations figures.

Read more:

Air raids kill at least 40 in Sudan’s Khartoum: Group

More than 5 million people displaced by Sudan conflict, UN agency says

Sudan’s RSF deputy leader says US sanctions on him ‘unfair’

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