US calls for full pull-out of Eritrea troops from Tigray as TPLF gains control
WASHINGTON, US - The US has called for urgent withdrawal of both federal and Eritrea troops from the Tigray region, which has been the hotspot of deadly clashes between security forces, leading to deaths of thousands of people besides displacement of millions of others.
Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, stressed the need for all parties to commit themselves to an indefinite ceasefire, adding that this will give full access to humanitarian teams which are trying to reach out to the vulnerable population.
The conflict in Tigray has killed thousands of people, displaced more than 2 million, and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine, with international pressure building on both sides to end hostilities.
Last week, the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire, leading to the withdrawal of federal troops from Tigray, but the Eritrea troops still remain in sections of the region. The Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] dismissed that truce as a joke and said it had driven the government out of the city.
"That unilateral announcement needs to be followed up with concrete changes on the ground to end the conflict, to stop the atrocities and importantly to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian assistance," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at a regular news briefing.
Blinken also called for Abiy to commit to steps outlined by the UN Security Council last week, including the withdrawal of both Eritrean and Amhara forces from Tigray and the establishment of a process to hold those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities accountable, Price said in a statement.
Abiy's government has been battling the TPLF since early November when it accused the then-governing party of Tigray of attacking military bases across the region. The TPLF has denied the charges.
The commander of rebel forces in Tigray on Tuesday called for a negotiated ceasefire with the Ethiopian government and a political solution to the conflict in the northern region, saying the government could not win the war.
Tsadkan Gebretensae, speaking a week after the withdrawal of government forces from the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, told Reuters: "After the defeat of Abiy's forces we are saying 'Let's have a negotiated ceasefire'."
"We are restraining ourselves for a realistic political solution to the whole problem. I would like the international community to understand this situation."
"But if there is no other choice, then the next choice will be: try to resolve it militarily," he said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.