Clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 19, 2023. - Photo by Ahmed Satti/Anadolu/Getty ImagesClashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 19, 2023. - Photo by Ahmed Satti/Anadolu/Getty Images

Clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 19, 2023. –  Photo by Ahmed Satti/Anadolu/Getty Images

By Tatiana Arias, Eyad Kourdi, Heather Chen, Jorge Engels

The leaders of Sudan’s warring military factions have agreed to start preliminary talks in Jeddah aimed at ending the conflict, according to Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The two countries welcomed the start of “pre-negotiation” discussions, to take place on Saturday, and called on both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to “actively engage in the talks towards a ceasefire and end to the conflict” in Sudan.

“(We) urge both parties to take into consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people,” the two countries said in a press release on Friday.

Clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary RSF erupted in mid-April, since which hundreds have been killed and thousands more injured.

A temporary ceasefire is currently allowing foreign nations to evacuate their citizens – but locals face deteriorating conditions and shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel.

Meanwhile, people on the ground in the country have told CNN that RSF fighters are trying to take control of “strategically located” hospitals that can be used as bases for the paramilitary force.

The RSF has already fully taken over Omdurman Maternity Hospital, a senior medical employee at a hospital in the state of Khartoum told CNN.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told CNN he had confirmed this by speaking with several staff members at the hospital.

He said the RSF was targeting hospitals because it needed cover from air strikes, “especially after their main military bases were completely destroyed by the army in the first few days of the war.”

“During the past days, they (have) controlled the maternity hospital in Omdurman. It is the biggest obstetrics and gynaecology hospital in the whole country. (The RSF have parked) many of their vehicles inside the hospital yard. It will provide them with a very good cover … It will be impossible for the army (SAF) to strike it by air because the surrounding area is full of civilians, it is in the middle of three big neighbourhoods.”

A second medical source, who works at a different hospital in Khartoum and who also wishes to remain anonymous, confirmed the RSF had taken over the Omdurman Maternity Hospital.

CNN has been unable to contact the hospital due to network connectivity issues in Sudan. However, it has obtained a widely circulated statement reportedly issued by the Omdurman Maternity Hospital administration that says the hospital was “attacked” at dawn on Thursday by RSF forces.

“They managed to break into the hospital and steal from the exchange counter about 20 million Sudanese pounds, including the deposits (of patients) according to the financial statements of the counter. They also kicked the workers out of the hospital so that the hospital became completely under their full control, and their vehicles entered the hospital (area),” the statement reads.

CNN has not independently verified these claims, nor has CNN been able to reach the paramilitary RSF for their comments.

Omdurman is Sudan’s most populated city, located less than an hour northwest of the centre of the capital and often referred to as Khartoum’s twin city.

A manager at another hospital in Khartoum voiced concerns over the spread of gangs throughout the two cities.

“These gangs are becoming more aggressive, robbing banks and markets, and destroying shops. They have already stolen a large amount of money from the Khartoum Bank. There is a complete absence of police, and the army is not able to secure many routes,” the manager said. –

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