Eritrean troops seen leaving Ethiopia’s Tigray – reports
By Africanews with AFP
ETHIOPIA – Eritrean forces have been leaving towns in the war-torn region of Tigray, locals told AFP, as the United States hailed a pullout seen as key to a landmark peace deal.
Fighting between federal troops and Tigray rebels erupted in northern Ethiopia in November 2020 and raged for two years before the two sides signed a peace deal in South Africa’s capital Pretoria on November 2, 2022.
Under the agreement, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed to disarm and re-establish the authority of the federal government in return for the Ethiopian government reopening access to the war-torn region in dire need of food and aid.
But the Pretoria agreement made no provision for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops, who fought on the side of the federal government and who were accused by the United States and human rights groups of some of the worst abuses in the bloody conflict.
On the ground in Tigray, locals told AFP that convoys of Eritrean troops have been leaving the towns of Shire and Adwa, although some soldiers remained.
“I saw some Eritrean forces leaving Shire towards the northeast. I don’t know if they’re making a full retreat,” said one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Another local confirmed having seen a convoy of trucks, buses, tanks and artillery pieces rolling out of town.
However, he said some Eritrean soldiers were still “walking the streets and around the markets” on Saturday.
“People are waiting to find out if the Eritrean forces are really withdrawing,” one resident in Adwa told AFP on Saturday. “There have already been announcements of Eritrean soldiers leaving, only for them to come back later from other directions.”
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