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Sudan Factions Agree Day's Truce Designed to 'Break Cycle of Violence'

Sudan's warring sides have agreed to a nationwide, 24-hour cease-fire starting Saturday morning, U.S. and Saudi Arabian mediators said, following a week of intensified fighting after a previous truce deal lapsed.

The mediators said the cease-fire was "an effort to break the cycle of violence" between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which began battling each other eight weeks ago, sparking a major humanitarian crisis.

The conflict has displaced more than 1.9 million people, 400,000 of whom have crossed into neighboring countries. The urban area around Sudan's capital, Khartoum, home to at least 5 million people, has been turned into a war zone. Unrest has also flared in the conflict-scarred western region of Darfur.

Fighting continued Friday, with residents reporting artillery fire and clashes in the north of Omdurman, across the confluence of the Nile River from Khartoum, and airstrikes in Bahri, a third adjoining city that makes up the wider capital.

"There are heavy strikes near us and bullets from every direction in Al-Thawra neighborhood in Omdurman," said Sanaa Ahmed, a 24-year-old resident. "We are really afraid, and we don't know what to do."

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said fighting had intensified significantly in Khartoum since Tuesday, resulting in a surge of patients to a hospital where it is working.

Another city where the conflict has triggered clashes is El Obeid in North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum, which lies on a main route between the capital and Darfur, the RSF's power base.

A doctors group said in a statement that the city had been suffering from water outages for more than a month, shortages of food, medicine and fuel, and two weeks of power cuts. Twelve kidney dialysis patients have died because of the impact of the war, and dozens more are at risk, it said.

The cease-fire is to start at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) local time on Saturday.

The two sides agreed to "refrain from prohibited movements, attacks, use of aircraft or drones, aerial bombardment, artillery strikes, reinforcement of positions and resupply of forces, and will refrain from seeking military advantage during the cease-fire," a Saudi-U.S. statement read.

They also agreed to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance, it said.

Both sides have broken a string of cease-fire agreements, including a 12-day truce deal that expired on June 3 and was brokered by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. at talks in Jeddah.

Fighting subsided slightly during the period of that truce deal and limited amounts of humanitarian relief were delivered, though aid agencies say their operations have been badly impeded by bureaucratic controls, fighting, and looting of aid supplies.

The army said last week that it was pulling out of the Jeddah talks, though both sides kept delegations in the Saudi city for consultations.

If the parties fail to observe the new cease-fire, "facilitators will be compelled to consider adjourning the Jeddah talks," the Saudi-U.S. statement said.

The army confirmed in a statement that it had agreed to the 24-hour cease-fire while asserting "its right to respond to any violations." The RSF said in a statement it was committed to respecting the truce.