Tigrayan forces accuse Eritrea of launching offensive

Forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray region say Eritrea has launched a full-scale offensive and heavy fighting was taking place in several areas along the border in what appears to be an escalation of last month’s renewal of fighting.

The Eritreans are fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces, including commando units, as well as allied militias, said Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), on Tuesday.

“Eritrea is deploying its entire army as well as reservists. Our forces are heroically defending their positions,” Reda wrote on Twitter.

There was no immediate comment from authorities in Ethiopia or Eritrea, which lies north of Tigray.

Two aid workers reported intense fighting along the border, including shelling into a camp for displaced persons, the Reuters news agency reported. They did not say whether Eritrean troops were on the ground in Tigray.

A humanitarian worker in the northern Ethiopian town of Adigrat told The Associated Press that Eritrean forces were shelling the surrounding areas.

The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa said the United States was aware of Eritrean troops crossing into Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

“We have been tracking Eritrean troops’  movement across the border … and we condemn it,” Mike Hammer told reporters in a briefing after a trip to Ethiopia to help facilitate African Union-led peace talks between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces.

“All external foreign actors should respect Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and avoid fuelling the conflict,” he said.

If confirmed, the participation of Eritrean troops would mark an escalation in a conflict that was reignited last month after the collapse of a ceasefire in place since March.

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