A three-decade-old ceasefire has ended in occupied Western Sahara after fighting broke out in several areas between the Moroccan military and the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi liberation movement seeking independence from Morocco.
The Moroccan military broke into the no-go buffer zone in southern Western Sahara on Friday where Morocco has occupied the territory since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community.
Sahrawi civilian protesters had over the last three weeks blocked a Morocco-built road in the area that Sahrawis consider to be illegal. The peaceful blockade backed up traffic for miles and cut off trade between Morocco and Mauritania to the south. The Polisario Front says it is now mobilizing thousands of volunteers to join for the fight for independence.
Meanwhile, Morocco has intensified its repression in occupied Western Sahara, raiding the homes of independence activists and cracking down on protests. Moroccan military drones were reportedly spotted in the city of Dakhla.
The military action by Morocco came hours after U.S. Major General Andrew Rohling met in Morocco with the commander of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces Southern Zone, which includes occupied Western Sahara. At the United Nations, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned against further violations of the ceasefire.