The Ethiopian government said on Wednesday that the first regional advance in several months in a region surrounded by bloody conflict was the capture of a city in Tigris by its troops from rebels.
The announcement sparked hope for peace after the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)’s recent announcement of a regional withdrawal of Ethiopian rebels.
The rebels announced Monday that they were withdrawing from neighboring Amhara and Afar, where fighting had spread, announcing their return to their territory and calling for a ceasefire. They did not immediately comment on the government’s announcement.
The State Liaison Service said in a statement that “brave Ethiopian security forces and security forces in the Amhara area have captured the city of Alamata after clearing enemy forces.”
“Ethiopian national security forces and Amhara regional security forces are destroying the fleeing terrorist group, which is marching on Abergelay,” the government added, referring to a district in the Tigre region.
Although unconfirmed, the rebels’ withdrawal from Amhara and Afar raised hopes of possible negotiations to end the conflict, coupled with a serious humanitarian crisis that lasted more than a year.
On Monday, the government said the TPLF announcement helped cover up military frustrations.
Since the end of October, both parties have each demanded major regional developments, but communications in war zones have been cut off and access to journalists has been restricted, making it difficult to independently verify ground conditions.
At one time, the rebels were about 200 km from the capital, Addis Ababa.
In late November, state media announced that Prime Minister Abi Ahmed, a former army lieutenant-colonel, would be there to launch a “counter-attack”. Since then the government has had many successes.
– No progress –
On Monday, the UN. In a letter to General Secretary Antonio Guterres, TPLF leader Depression Jeffrey Michael informed him of their withdrawal and called for an immediate end to the wars, believing that the withdrawal would be “a decisive opening for peace.”
The United States on Monday said it hoped the announcement of the withdrawal of rebels from Tigris would open the door to diplomacy to end the conflict.
Serious diplomatic efforts, especially as the African Union seeks to achieve a ceasefire, have so far made no decisive progress.
The UN says several thousand people have died in the conflict, more than two million people have been displaced and hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians have been pushed to the brink of famine.
Last week, the UN gave the green light to an international mechanism to investigate the abuses in Ethiopia.
The group stopped humanitarian flights between Addis Ababa and the capital of Tigris, McClellan, in October, where the government carried out airstrikes. Flights resumed in November.
Fears of an uprising in the capital provoked many countries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom – to force their citizens to leave Ethiopia soon.
In November 2020, war broke out after the prime minister challenged his authority and sent federal troops to the northern part of Tigray to remove local officials from the TPLF, which he accused of attacking military bases.
Abi Ahmed, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for making peace with neighboring Eritrea, declared victory three weeks after capturing the regional capital, McClellan. But in June, the DPLF captured most of Tigray and then advanced to neighboring Afar and Amhara.
This conflict has weakened the country and threatened to destabilize the horn of Africa.
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