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Ethiopia, Eritrea launch Tigray offensive: TPLF

September 1, 2022

Fighters in the northern Ethiopian region say forces from both countries have begun a "massive" attack on their positions. Fighting in the nearly two-year conflict resumed last week after a monthslong lull.

Damaged playground in Mekele, Tigray
Airstrikes in Tigray's capital, Mekele, have caused considerable damage, as seen at this playgroundImage: Tigrai TV/Reuter

Fighters from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) said on Thursday that Ethiopian and Eritrean forces had launched a joint offensive in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, with heavy shelling reported in some areas.

"The enemy, having already relocated a massive military force to Eritrea, has now begun a joint campaign with the foreign invading force of Eritrea to brutalize and exterminate the people of Tigray," the TPLF military command said in a statement.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said on Twitter that the fighters were "defending their positions" and reported "heavy shelling" from some locations.

The claims have not been independently verified, largely owing to a communications blackout and severely restricted access in the region. Neither the Ethiopian nor the Eritrean governments have immediately responded to agency requests for comment.

Widening conflict zone

The rebel claims come after both sides accused each other of extending their military operations into areas not affected by initial clashes in the almost two-year conflict, which were concentrated on Tigray's southeastern border.

Ground clashes and air raids between government forces and TPLF fighters resumed last week after a five-month lull.

A humanitarian worker in the Tigrayan town of Shire told Reuters news agency that there had been eyewitness reports of cross-border shelling on Wednesday. He said one witness had spoken of heavy artillery shelling in the town of Sheraro near the Eritrean border that had started at around 4:30 a.m. (0130 UTC) on Thursday.

What is the conflict in Tigray?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent government troops into Tigray in November 2020 in response to what he said were TPLF attacks on federal army camps.  

The TPLF recaptured most of Tigray in June 2021 and expanded into Afar and Amhara, before a stalemate.

Abiy only later admitted to the deployment of Eritrean troops in the conflict.

The war has cost the lives of an unknown numbers of civilians and left millions in need of humanitarian aid.

tj/wd (AFP, Reuters)