The Ethiopian government said Thursday that the armed forces have been ordered to halt further advances north in Afar and Amhara regional states.
“The objective of the military offensive was to liberate the Amara and Afar regions from the terrorist TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) occupation and incapacitate it from becoming a security threat once again. To this end, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and allied forces have inflicted heavy losses on TPLF and routed the terrorist group from eastern Amhara and the whole of Afar region,” Minister in Charge of Government Communication Service Legesse Tullu said at a news conference.
“Our assessment is that the military capacity, will, and motivation of TPLF has been effectively incapacitated. However, if TPLF continues to pose a threat to our security the Ethiopian government will respond in kind depending on well-thought study.’’
“The government decided that ENDF (Ethiopia National Defense Force) will remain in areas it has liberated,” he said.
Earlier this week, the leader of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region said all forces from the TPLF have been recalled.
Debretsion Gebremichael said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that his forces, which were reportedly closing in on the capital of Addis Ababa, had been recalled to Tigray to give room for the international community to push a peace process.
“I am writing on behalf of the people of Tigray and the National Regional Government of Tigray to reiterate our call for peace,” said Gebremichael.
“I have ordered those units of the Tigray army that are outside the borders of Tigray to withdraw to the borders of Tigray with immediate effect. We trust that our bold act of withdrawal will be a decisive opening for peace,” he added.
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda, meanwhile, said Monday on Twitter that the TPLF completed the withdrawal of forces from the Amhara and Afar regions.
“By doing so, we believe we have taken away whatever excuse the international community has to explain its feet-dragging when it comes to putting pressure on (Ethiopian Prime Minister) Abiy Ahmed and his regional partners in crime to stop their genocidal campaign in Tigray,” said Reda.
But the government countered Tigrayan rebels’ statements Tuesday that they were retreating voluntarily from the northern Afar and Amhara regions, saying that they were pushed out by government forces.
Thousands of people have been killed as Ethiopian forces have been fighting Tigrayan rebels since November 2020.
Acute food insecurity is now affecting more than 9.4 million people in northern Ethiopia, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Within Tigray, 5.2 million people, roughly 90% of the population, need humanitarian aid.
All parties to the conflict, including the army, Tigrayan forces, and the Eritrean military have “to varying degrees” committed violations of international human rights, according to the UN