The Ethiopian central government announced that its troops recovered several crucial cities due to their relative proximity to the country’s capital and that they had been under the control of the rebels in the northern region of Tigré since the end of October.
“Abiy Ahmed (the Ethiopian Prime Minister) led the seizure of the cities of Bati, Gerba, Kersa, Degan, Dessie and Kombolcha from the insurgent terrorists of the FPLT (Popular Front of Liberation Tigré)”, announced the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed through his Twitter account.
The news confirms the recent trend of the Ethiopian Army’s advance on territory previously conquered by Tigré rebels in neighboring Afar and Amhara regions.
“The victory we have obtained in such a short time is incredible (…) It took the enemy four months to get here, but it took 15 days for our forces to drive out the enemy,” the prime minister said in televised statements from the front. shortly after the announcement.
“Afar is now liberated and there are only a few areas left to liberate the Amhara territory from the enemy,” he added.
The fall of Dessie and Kombolcha had been especially significant at the end of last October, placing the FPLT forces less than 400 kilometers from Addis Ababa and unleashing a worsening of the conflict and the declaration of a state of emergency in the country.
The rebel threat to Addis Ababa, in fact, prompted Abiy Ahmed himself to come to the frontlines to lead in person and give new impetus to the federal offensive in late November.
The recovery of these cities joins other symbolic victories of the central government forces in recent days, such as the seizure of control of the historic city of Lalibela, which is home to famous rock-hewn churches. declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and had been in the hands of the rebels since last August.
For his part, the spokesman for the FPLT, Getachew Reda, had today downplayed the importance of these land losses and described them as “territorial adjustments.”
“There are many tactical, operational and strategic considerations behind our movement. While none of these considerations will divert us from our primary objective of ensuring the safety of our people, we are confident that we will soon be much better positioned to achieve much more illustrious goals in the weeks ahead. they are coming, “he said on Twitter.
The federal government has been at war for more than a year with the forces of the FPLT, the party that led Ethiopian politics with an iron fist from 1991 to 2018, when Abiy came to power.
The conflict erupted on November 4, 2020, when Abiy ordered an offensive against the FPLT, then ruling Tigré, in retaliation for an attack on a federal military base and after an escalation of political tensions.
The FPLT, for its part, later formed alliances with other insurgent groups, such as the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), active in the Oromia region surrounding the capital.
According to the UN, thousands of people have died and some two million have had to leave their homes due to the violence.
Also, some 9.4 million people need humanitarian aid in northern Ethiopia due to the war, according to the World Food Program (WFP).
The worsening of the conflict in recent months and the fear that the rebels could take the capital of the second most populous country in Africa (more than 110 million inhabitants) had caused the international community to redouble diplomatic efforts to achieve an end to the hostilities and a negotiated solution, although for the moment the attempts were unsuccessful.
UN suspends food distribution
The World Food Program (WFP) of The United Nations suspended the distribution of food in the city of Kombolcha, in northern Ethiopia, in the face of “massive looting” attributed to rebels from the Tigré region, a UN spokesman announced Wednesday.
There have been “massive looting of warehouses in Kombolcha in recent days, apparently by members of the Tigré rebels and some members of the local population” in Kombolcha, a city in Amhara province, Stéphane Dujarric reported in a daily press conference. .
The attacks caused the suspension of food distribution in the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, in the north of the African country, added Dujarric, underlining that these robberies could increase food insecurity in northern Ethiopia, while the volume of what was stolen remains undetermined.
“Large quantities of food, including products for malnourished children, were stolen and looted,” the spokesman said.
This comes in the middle of a war that broke out in November 2020 in northern Ethiopia and is still ongoing, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the army to the northern region of Tigré to remove the local authorities from the Liberation Front. of the People of Tigré (TPLF), who challenged his authority and accused Ahmed of attacking military bases.
Ethiopian Prime Minister leaves the front
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Wednesday that he will return to his office in the capital Addis Ababa after spending two weeks at the front.
State media announced on November 24 that Abiy Ahmed had left the management of “current affairs” to his Deputy Prime Minister to go to the battlefield and carry out a “counteroffensive” against the rebels of the Liberation Front of the United States. Pueblo de Tigré (TPLF), which claimed large captures of territory for several weeks.
Since then, these media regularly broadcast images of Abiy in uniform together with the military, while the government announced that it had recovered Lalibela, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the cities of Dessie and Kombolcha, strategic crossroads on the way to the capital. .
“I am going back to office because I have finished the first phase,” the prime minister said in a statement, stating that the last few weeks have “humiliated the enemy and straightened out Ethiopia.”
“The fighting is not over yet. There are areas that have not been liberated. We must propose a lasting solution to ensure that the enemy who has put us to the test will not again be a danger to Ethiopia,” he added.
For its part, the TPLF, through its political leader Debretsion Gebremichael, denied that the government had regained military advantage, stating that the army only occupies abandoned areas after strategic withdrawals by the rebels.
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