The US special envoy to the Horn of Africa condemned the Eritrean troops’ crossing into the Tigray region of Ethiopia amid renewed fighting.
Forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray region say Eritrea has launched a full-scale offensive and fierce fighting has broken out in several areas along the border in what appears to be an escalation of the previous month. combat innovation.
Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said the Eritreans were fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces, including commando units, as well as fellow militia forces. bright.
“Eritrea is deploying its entire army as well as its reserves. Our forces are defending their position heroically,” Reda wrote on Twitter.
There was no immediate comment from authorities in Ethiopia or Eritrea, located north of Tigray.
Two aid workers reported intense fighting along the border, including shelling of camps for displaced people, Reuters news agency reported. They did not say whether the Eritrean army was on land at Tigray.
A humanitarian worker in the northern Ethiopian town of Adigrat told the AP news agency that Eritrean forces were shelling the surrounding areas.
The US special envoy to the Horn of Africa said the US was aware of Eritrean troops flooding into Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
“We have been monitoring the movement of Eritrean troops across the border… and we condemn that,” Mike Hammer told reporters at a news conference after a trip to Ethiopia to help facilitate the movement. peace talks led by the African Union between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces.
“All foreign actors should respect Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and avoid promoting conflict,” he said.
If confirmed, the Eritrean military’s involvement would mark an escalation in a conflict that erupted last month after a ceasefire was implemented in March.
Canada and the UK issued travel advisories last week asking their citizens in Eritrea to remain vigilant after authorities there urged citizens to report military service.
The war in Tigray is estimated to have cost tens of thousands of lives and millions of lives no basic service for more than a year.
UN experts on Monday said there are reasonable grounds to believe that “War Crimes and crimes against humanity” were committed by the Ethiopian government in the Tigray region.
Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Zenebe Kebede Korcho, said the experts’ conclusions were “self-contradictory and biased”.
“There is not any evidence that the Ethiopian government has used humanitarian aid as an instrument of war,” the special envoy told AFP news agency, describing the report as “a mockery” and ” trash”.
“Therefore, we have no choice but to reject this report.”
Eritrean forces fighting on the side of the Ethiopian federal army in Tigray when war broke out in November 2020. Eritrean forces were implicated in some of the worst atrocities committed during the conflict – charges they deny. War broke out in August after fighting subsided earlier this year.
Inside Tigray, millions of inhabitants remain largely cut off from the rest of the world. Communication and banking services were cut off, and restoring them was a key need in the reconciliation efforts.
Eritrea’s full involvement in the Tigray war is likely to complicate any peace efforts between Tigraan leaders and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who mended relations with Eritrea as soon as he came to power. rights in 2018.
But that partnership has been viewed suspiciously by the Tigrayan government, with whom Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki remains an enemy two decades after Ethiopia and Eritrea waged a bloody border war.