Tigrayan forces declare to seize new city of Kombolcha

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Tigrayan forces mentioned on Sunday they seized one other strategic city in Ethiopia’s Amhara area.

The fighters captured Kombolcha and its airport, mentioned Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

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The seize of Kombolcha can be a strategic acquire for the Tigrayan fighters in opposition to the Ethiopian army and its allies, who’re attempting to dislodge the Tigrayans from the Amhara area.

The massive city is about 380km (235 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa, and is the furthest south in Amhara that the TPLF has reached since pushing into the area in July. It steered the TPLF was heading nearer to the Ethiopian capital.

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It was not doable to independently confirm Getachew’s declare as telephone strains in Kombolcha gave the impression to be down.

Ethiopia’s authorities spokesperson Legesse Tulu, Ethiopian army spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane, and Amhara regional spokesperson Gizachew Muluneh didn’t instantly reply requests for remark.

‘Fabricated propaganda’

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Witnesses mentioned renewed gun battles had been additionally beneath approach in the important thing metropolis of Dessie with Ethiopian troops ordering residents to remain indoors, regardless of reportedly retreating a day earlier.

Getachew mentioned TPLF fighters took Dessie on Saturday and asserted they already had “commanding positions” on the outskirts of Kombolcha and had its airport of their sights.

Getachew mentioned “it’s a matter of days” earlier than the fighters will be capable to bodily hyperlink up with one other armed group, the Oromo Liberation Army, with which it struck an alliance earlier this 12 months.

Government spokesman Legesse rejected the declare of Dessie’s fall as “fabricated propaganda” and mentioned the town and its environment had been beneath army management.

‘No one should go out’

Much of northern Ethiopia is beneath a communications blackout and entry for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims troublesome to confirm independently.

In Dessie, residents spoke of listening to gunfire whereas holed up of their properties.

Desta, a former waiter who gave solely his first title, mentioned he noticed troops combating within the streets.

Mohammed, one other resident who additionally declined to provide his household title, advised the AFP information company authorities troops “told us no one should go out”.

“They are firing but I had to close my window … to not get spotted,” he mentioned. “Soldiers told us they are fighting to take the city again.”

An announcement from the Ethiopian army communications workplace mentioned troopers “are fighting to eliminate the invading force once and for all”.

The TPLF didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Fighting spreads

Residents earlier reported a heavy army build-up in Dessie, about 400km (250 miles) north of Addis Ababa, as civilians fleeing conflict-hit cities additional north poured into the town in search of refuge.

As combating erupted in Dessie, many individuals piled into buses and fled for Kombolcha on Saturday.

But on Sunday, that city too noticed an outbreak of violence. “We saw TPLF entering through the main road in the morning, we ran to our homes,” mentioned a 32-year-old resident who gave his title solely as Tadesse.

The rebels gave the impression to be engaged in gun battles with Amhara fighters and Ethiopian troopers, he mentioned.

Another resident, Amsalu, 34, mentioned gunfire erupted about 9am and intensified throughout the day. “I hear gunshots in the city … it’s non-stop. I am just sitting at home to be safe,” she mentioned.

The Amhara area – the place Dessie is positioned – renewed requires residents to enroll to safeguard their neighbourhoods, whereas the federal government spokesman Tulu urged residents to mobilise for battle.

“Every Ethiopian citizen able to fight should mobilise,” he mentioned.

The Amhara regional administration mentioned it “calls on all citizens in the region who are able to fight to register … in the next three days”.

US requires calm

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s army carried out an air assault on Tigray on Sunday – the newest in a marketing campaign of air bombardments that started nearly two weeks in the past because the army steps up its use of airpower.

The assault near the regional capital of Mekelle focused a “military training facility [that] served as a recruiting and training centre” for the TPLF, Ethiopia’s authorities communication service mentioned on Twitter.

No casualties had been reported. The authorities mentioned the amenities bombed had been army in nature and aiding the TPLF.

The bombings have drawn worldwide censure and disrupted the United Nations’ entry to the area the place an estimated 400,000 individuals face famine-like situations beneath a de facto help blockade.

The United States on Saturday referred to as on the Tigrayan forces to halt their advances in and round Dessie and Kombolcha, withdraw from Amhara and Afar, and to not use artillery in opposition to cities.

In a press release, the US urged each side to start ceasefire negotiations, saying “there is no military solution to this conflict”.

The battle erupted final November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed troops in Tigray with the operation spiralling into a chronic warfare marked by massacres, mass rapes, and a humanitarian disaster.

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner mentioned the operation was in response to assaults on military camps by the TPLF, the regional governing occasion.

He promised a swift victory, however by late June the rebels had retaken most of Tigray and combating unfold to the neighbouring areas of Amhara and Afar.

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