Ethiopia’s national armed forces are still in the process of clearing rebellious forces from the northern Tigray region from neighboring Amhara and Afar, government spokeswoman Billene Seyoum said on Tuesday.
Billene rejected a statement by the TPLF, the party that controls Tigray, that it had conducted a strategic withdrawal from the Amhara and Afar regions. She presented what had unfolded as a series of military victories by the national forces against the TPLF.
The TPLF said on Monday its forces had withdrawn from Amhara and Afar, presenting the move as a “decisive opening for peace” and writing to the United Nations setting out a series of demands.
“As we have seen in recent weeks, the national defense forces together with allied forces from the Afar region and the Amhara region have made considerable gains in reversing the occupation by TPLF of many Amhara and Afar towns,” Billene said during a news conference live-streamed on YouTube.
“We’re still in the final stages of this latest operation …The aim was to ensure that TPLF forces were cleared out of the Amhara and Afar regions,” she said.
“This is something that is still being undertaken because there are still some elements within certain pockets that need to be fully cleared out.”
The 13-month-old war in Africa’s second most populous nation has destabilized an already fragile region, sent 60,000 refugees into Sudan, pulled Ethiopian soldiers away from war-ravaged Somalia and drawn in armed forces from neighboring Eritrea.