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Khartoum denies South Kordofan claims

UNITED NATIONS, July 19 (UPI) -- Operations in South Kordofan along the border with South Sudan were targeting rebel forces, the Sudanese envoy to the United Nations said.

The United Nations welcomed South Sudan as its newest member last week. Its entrance followed its independence July 9, which came as a result of a peace deal reached in 2005 that ended Sudan's civil war.

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Despite independence and a series of peace initiatives, the international community has expressed concern over violence along the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

The Satellite Sentinel Project last week said it had visual evidence that it claimed showed mass graves in South Kordofan that could be the result of ethnic violence in the region.

Daffa Alla el-Haj Ali Osman, the Sudanese envoy to the United Nations, told al-Jazeera anti-government forces, not civilians, were the target of operations in South Kordafan, now on Sudan's side of the border.

"I can assure you that there was not a single civilian casualty during those operations," he said.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan in what al-Jazeera described as a leaked report also documented witness accounts of alleged atrocities in South Kordofan.

U.N. officials said their hands are tied because they don't have the mandate to intervene.

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