Home LATEST NEWS Ethiopian government says it has taken over the towns of Dessie and...

Ethiopian government says it has taken over the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha

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The historic town of Dessie and Kombolcha, a commercial and industrial city, were liberated by the valiant security forcesthe government communications service said on Twitter.

Just a month ago, rebels from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) threatened Addis Ababa, after taking control of Dessie and Kombolcha, located on a highway connecting the capital to the north of the country and Djibouti.

They claimed to have reached Shewa Robit, 220 km northeast of Addis Ababa.

An armed man.

A member of the Amhara militia standing with his weapon in Dessia, Ethiopia.

Photo: Getty Images / EDUARDO SOTERAS

But since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assured that he would now lead operations on the ground at the end of November, his government has claimed a series of victories against the rebels.

Cited by the state channel Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Abiy said the rebels suffered heavy losses and [étaient] unable to resist the onslaught from the allied army to several pro-government militias.

We will beat the enemy and the victory will continue, he added.

On Wednesday, the government announced that pro-Abiy forces had recaptured the site of Lalibela, famous for its rock-hewn churches and a World Heritage Site.UNESCO, which fell to Tigrayan fighters in August.

In a statement on Sunday, the head of TPLFDebretsion Gebremichael denied that the government was regaining the advantage, claiming that the rebels were carrying out a strategic reorganization and remained undefeated.

A conflict that continues

The conflict erupted in November 2020, when Abiy Ahmed sent troops to the northernmost region of Tigray to overthrow the TPLF in response, he said, to rebel attacks on army camps.

The insurgents launched a massive counteroffensive, retaking most of Tigray in June, before pushing into neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar. The conflict took a new turn a month ago, when the TPLF claimed to have captured Dessie and Kombolcha, without ruling out marching on the capital, Addis Ababa.

This escalation sparked panic in Western chancelleries, several countries such as the United States, Canada and France having asked their nationals to leave the country as soon as possible.

According to’UN, the fighting left thousands dead, more than 2 million displaced and plunged hundreds of thousands of people in conditions close to famine.

Massacres and gang rapes committed by the two camps have been recorded.

A damaged tank.

A damaged tank on a road north of Mekele, the capital of Tigray (archive).

Photo: tiger-conflict-weapon / EDUARDO SOTERAS

Western pressures

So far, diplomatic efforts by the African Union to try to achieve a ceasefire have not yielded any decisive progress.

Earlier on Monday, the United States and its Western allies sounded the alarm bells over concerns that the Ethiopian government had arbitrarily arrested large numbers of people on an ethnic basis.

We are deeply concerned by recent reports that the Ethiopian state has detained large numbers of Ethiopian citizens on the basis of their ethnicity and without charge., said the US State Department in a joint statement.

Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have joined the United States in calling on the Ethiopian government to stop immediately arrests, claiming that many of these acts probably constitute violations of international law.

Their joint statement cites information from Amnesty International and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission of large-scale arrests of Tigrayans, including Orthodox priests, the elderly and mothers with their children.

People arrested without charge or court hearing and reportedly held in inhumane conditions, they added, before reiterating their call for a lasting ceasefire without preconditions.

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