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US imposes sanctions on three Sudanese companies tied to the warring parties

CAIRO (AP) — The United States imposed sanctions Wednesday on three Sudanese firms it accused of being directly connected to the warring forces in Sudan, as the devastating conflict in the northeast African country continues to rage.

The army, headed by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, a powerful paramilitary group commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have been fighting for control of Sudan since April. Long-standing tensions erupted into street battles concentrated in the capital but also in other areas including the western Darfur region.

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department block all property and entities in the U.S. belonging to Alkhaleej Bank Co Ltd; Zadna International Co for Development Ltd; and Al-Fakher Advanced Works Co. Ltd.

In a news release, the department said both Alkhaleej and Al-Fakher had direct ties to the RSF, with Al-Fakher being a key component of the paramilitary's lucrative gold export business. Zadna is run by the army and helps provide revenue for a military-run weapons company that already has been sanctioned by the U.S., the Treasury Department said.

Wednesday's sanctions are the latest Washington has imposed on Sudan’s leaders and companies, in a bid to pressure the two sides to end the conflict. High profile individuals targeted include former Foreign Minister Ali Karti and a brother of Dagalo.

The United Nations says at least 12,000 people have been killed in the conflict, although local doctors groups say the true toll is far higher. Over 10.7 million people have been displaced by the conflict, according to the U.N. migration agency.

Over the past two months, the RSF has appeared to take the upper hand in the conflict, with its troops making advances eastwards and northwards across Sudan’s central belt.

Regional partners in Africa have been trying to mediate an end the conflict ,along with Saudi Arabia and the U.S., which facilitated rounded of unsuccessful, indirect talks between the warring parties. Burhan and Dagalo are yet to meet in person since the conflict began.