Tigrayan forces accuse Eritrea of launching offensive

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The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa condemned Eritrean troops crossing into Ethiopia’s Tigre region amid renewed fighting.

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Forces in Ethiopia’s Tigre region say Eritrea has launched a full-scale offensive and heavy fighting is taking place in several areas along the border, which appears to be an escalation of last month’s fighting.

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Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesman Getachev Reda said on Tuesday that Eritrean commando units as well as allied militias were fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces.

“Eritrea is deploying its entire army as well as reservists. Our forces are heroically defending their position,” Reda wrote on Twitter.

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There was no immediate comment from officials in Ethiopia or Eritrea, which lies north of the Tigre.

Reuters news agency reported that two aid workers reported fierce fighting along the border, including shelling at a camp for the displaced. He did not say whether Eritrean troops were on the ground at Tigre.

A humanitarian worker in the northern Ethiopian city of Adigrate told The Associated Press that Eritrean forces were shelling the surrounding areas.

The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa said the United States was aware of Eritrean troops entering the Tigre region of Ethiopia.

“We are monitoring the movement of Eritrean troops across the border … and we condemn it,” said Mike Hammer to help facilitate African Union-led peace talks between the Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan forces told reporters at a briefing after his visit to Ethiopia.

“All external foreign actors must respect the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and refrain from promoting conflict,” he said.

If confirmed, the participation of Eritrean troops would mark an escalation in a conflict that followed the collapse of a ceasefire since March last month.

Canada and the United Kingdom issued travel advisories last week asking their citizens in Eritrea to remain vigilant as authorities there called on citizens to report for military duty.

It is estimated that thousands of people were killed in the battle at Tigre and millions were left without basic services for more than a year.

UN experts said on Monday that there are reasonable grounds to believe that “war crimes and crimes against humanity” have been committed by the Ethiopian government in the Tigre region.

Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Jenebe Kebede Korcho, said the experts’ findings were “self-contradictory and biased”.

The AFP news agency called the report a “joke” and “nonsense”, saying “there is no evidence that shows the Ethiopian government has used humanitarian aid as an instrument of war.”

Therefore, we have no option but to reject this report.

Eritrean forces fought on behalf of Ethiopian federal troops in Tigre when war broke out in November 2020. Eritrean forces were implicated in some of the worst atrocities committed in the conflict – they deny the allegations. The fighting resumed in August after a lull in fighting earlier this year.

Inside the Tigre, millions of residents are still largely cut off from the world. Communications and banking services are disconnected, and their restoration has been a major demand in mediation efforts.

Eritrea’s full entry into the Tigre War could potentially complicate any peace efforts between Tigreyan leaders and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who improved relations with Eritrea as soon as he came to power in 2018.

But that reconciliation was viewed with suspicion by the Tigranian authorities, to whom Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki remains an enemy two decades after Eritrean and Eritrean fighting a bloody border war.

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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