Superpower Arms Flow into Karenni State; Thailand Fears Refugee Surge


MAE HONG SON — Conflict in Karenni state intensifies. World major powers supplying arms; fears of large-scale refugee influx into Thailand.

The situation in the state of Karenni in Myanmar, which borders the Thai province of Mae Hong Son, continues to be characterized by ongoing conflicts that resemble a proxy war. In this conflict, foreign mercenaries supported by the United States are fighting against the Myanmar military, which receives weapons from China and Russia.

On June 26, 2024, a senior source from the Karenni Army (KA) revealed the ongoing fighting situation in Karenni State. The source explained that over the past week, Myanmar forces have intensified their efforts to capture parts of Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State (also known as Karenni State), from the Karenni Army (KA) and the Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF).

Karenni Army

The Myanmar troops stationed in the area come from various battalions that had previously been defeated. In particular, new types of drones, presumably manufactured in China and Russia, are being used in the conflict.


The Karenni troops have adopted the tactic of splitting into small groups to make it more difficult for the Myanmar drones to attack them. However, there are still 4-5 Myanmar military bases in Loikaw, while 70 percent of the surrounding 16 bases have been captured by the Karenni forces, including areas close to the Thai border. Fighting continues, with the Karenni army using guerrilla tactics to ambush and weaken the Myanmar military.

In addition, the Karenni army had to send troops to clear numerous landmines planted by the Myanmar military in various areas, resulting in several civilian casualties. The Karenni troops have already cleared over 500 landmines in Loikaw.


The Karenni Army has also established a provisional system of governance in the border areas, overseen by the Karenni State Interim Executive Council (IEC). The IEC manages the border checkpoints and has deployed immigration officers at various border points such as Ban Huay Ton Noon in Khun Yuam district and Ban Sao Hin in Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son province.


The Karenni troops’ next target is to advance towards Naypyidaw, the military capital of Myanmar, together with the KNPP/KA, KNDF and PDF in cooperation with the 2nd Brigade of the Karen National Union (KNU). Heavy fighting is reported from Bago, a neighboring town of Naypyidaw. The aim of this action is to distract the Myanmar military from attacking targets in Karenni State by forcing it to defend its capital.

A Thai intelligence source in Mae Hong Son province told Khaosod reporters that the involvement of foreign mercenaries in Karenni state, believed to be backed by the United States, has complicated the situation. The Myanmar government has responded by supplying arms from Russia and China. The conflict is expected to escalate after the rainy season, which could lead to a large influx of refugees into Thailand.