Ethiopia: Tigray rebels accuse government forces of new, large offensive

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Rebels in the Tigray region of Ethiopiaaccused the central government in Addis Ababa and militias aligned with them of launching what it termed a “large-scale offensive” Wednesday.

The government in Addis Ababa did not immediately respond to the claims by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). It was not possible to independently verify the claims made by the TPLF due to the information blackout in that part of the country.

The “large-scale offensive” would put an end to a months-old cease-fire that had held a fragile peace in the country.

What is known about the ‘large-scale offensive’?

Getachew Reda, a TPLF spokesman, told the AFP news agency, “They launched the offensive early this morning around 5:00 a.m. local time (0200 GMT). We are defending our positions.”

On Twitter, Reda said the “large-scale offensive” had been launched “against our positions in the southern front,” and accused Ethiopia’s army, special forces and Amharic militias from the neighboring region of being responsible for the incursion.

Residents and Reda said the fighting broke out near the town of Kobo.

A farmer in the region told Reuters news agency, “I am hearing sound of heavy weapons starting from this morning.”

Tigrai Television, a state-run regional station, reported, “Ethiopian forces along with Amhara special forces and Amhara militias started a large-scale attack around 5:00 a.m.”

What does this mean for the conflict between Ethiopia and the TPLF?

The claim of a fresh offensive comes five months after the TPLF and the Ethiopian government reached a truce after more than a year of a brutal war that began in November 2020.

The Ethiopian National Defense Force had accused the TPLF on Tuesday of trying to “defame” the army with claims that Ethiopian government forces were moving against their positions or using heavy weapons to shell them.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF have traded barbs while simultaneously raising the prospects for peace talks to bring the war to an end. The two sides are unable to come to an agreement on who should lead the negotiations.

The TPLF is also demanding the restoration of basic services to the region’s 6 million people prior to the start of any peace talks. Tigray has been without communications or banking services and imports of fuel are restricted which limits the amount of aid that can be brought into the region.

The war was responsible for displacing millions, creating famine conditions in parts of Tigray and the deaths of thousands of civilians.

ar/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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