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Ethiopia Tigray conflict: Rebels build on capture of capital

Rebel fighters in the Tigray region of Ethiopia are continuing to gain ground after recapturing the regional capital Mekelle from government forces.

Jun 29, 2021: The Tigray People’s Liberation Front says it is in control of Tigray’s regional capital Mekelle in what would be a sharp reversal in eight months of conflict

The rebels have now entered the town of Shire, about 140km (90 miles) to the north-west, according to UN officials.

Eritrean troops backing the Ethiopian army had earlier abandoned the city.

The government has declared a ceasefire in the eight-month conflict, but the rebels have vowed to drive their “enemies” from Tigray.

The fighting between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and government forces has left thousands of people dead.

More than two million have been displaced and 350,000 pushed towards famine.

The fighting began in November, when rebels rejected political reforms and captured army bases. Government forces captured Mekelle later that month.

There were scenes of jubilation in the streets of the capital on Tuesday, a day after the rebels retook the city following a rapid offensive. The central government has called a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the region.

Rebel spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters news agency that Tigrayan fighters would “destroy the enemy” by entering Eritrea and the Ethiopian region of Amhara – whose militias have also supported government forces.

“We have to ensure that the enemy… doesn’t have the capability to threaten the security of our people anymore,” he said.

The status of Eritrean troops remains unclear, although one resident in Shire told Reuters the Eritreans appeared to be moving north, towards the border.

The rebels are now in control of most of the region, the research organisation International Crisis Group said.

Jun 29, 2021: Soldiers from #Eritrea withdrew from three key towns in #Ethiopia’s #Tigray region on Tuesday, a day after Tigray fighters took control of the regional capital from retreating Ethiopian forces and Ethiopia’s government declared a unilateral #cease-fire. Tigray forces vowed to chase “enemies” out of the region, signaling no immediate end to the fighting. FRANCE 24’s Maria Gerth-Nicolescu for the latest news.

It is difficult to verify information in Tigray as communications have been cut.

With rebels seizing back control of Mekelle, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears to have had few options left when he unilaterally declared a ceasefire.

But by framing the decision as a “humanitarian” one, the government in Addis Ababa is attempting to save face.

So what now? The rebels have so far ignored the ceasefire saying they are intent on driving out all so-called “invading enemies”.

The international community will be watching to see whether the ceasefire is a turning point, and in particular, whether humanitarian groups can now travel freely in the region to deliver supplies to the millions of people in desperate need of food.

All sides in the conflict have been accused of mass killings and human rights violations.

Jun 29, 2021: A CNN investigation in April 2021, in collaboration with Amnesty International, exposed the horror of a massacre perpetrated by Ethiopian soldiers in Mahibere Dego in the mountains of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where government troops are battling regional forces. CNN has obtained and verified new images, confirming not only the identity of the victims but also the army unit of the perpetrators. CNN’s Nima Elbagir reports.

On Tuesday, senior US state department official Robert Godec said Washington would not stand by in the face of the “horrifying atrocities” being committed in Tigray.

State department spokesperson Ned Price said the truce declaration could be positive if it led to steps to “end the conflict, stop the atrocities, and allow unhindered humanitarian assistance”.

The UN has said there was a situation of famine in northern Ethiopia – a claim Ethiopia’s government denies.


Published by amongthefray

News with a historical perspective. Fighting against misinformation, hate, and revisionist history.

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