TPLF said Monday that Tigrayan forces are controlling Korem, a town 170 kilometers (105 miles) south of the capital of the Mekelle region.
Forces in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia said Monday they were pushing south and had retaken a city from government forces, underscoring their willingness to continue fighting until to the restoration of the borders of the first war of the region.
The Reuters news agency was unable to independently confirm the claim because communication links to the region were down.
The conflict erupted in Tigray eight months ago after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent government forces to confront a rebellion by a powerful ethnic faction, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Prime Minister Ahmed’s Prosperity Party has won the recently held parliamentary elections in a slash, tightening its power.
The government declared victory three weeks later when it took the regional capital Mekelle, but fighting continued, leaving thousands dead and nearly two million forced out of their homes.
But on June 28, the TPLF announced Mekelle’s takeover and now claims to control most of Tigray, home to seven million people.
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters on Monday that Tigrayan forces were controlling Korem, a town 170 kilometers (105 miles) south of Mekelle, and were pushing to take control of Alamata’s major city, 20 km (12 miles) further south.
A former Korem resident now living in the capital Addis Ababa told Reuters that a family member fleeing his home had arrived in an area with cell service and confirmed the fight.
Ethiopian army spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane did not comment on who was in control of the city but said in a text message, “we had declared a ceasefire,” referring to a ceasefire. unilaterally declared by the Ethiopian government after its troops pulled out of Mekelle. The TPLF called the ceasefire “a mockery”.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Ahmed and the head of the government task force in Tigray did not respond to requests for comment.
Getachew, the TPLF spokesman, said the group wants its first war borders to be re-established and transport links to be opened to allow people and humanitarian aid to move.
The conflict has forced nearly two million people to flee their homes.
Earlier last month, the UN said at least 350,000 people in Tigray were starving. Last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development estimated the number at 900,000.
The United Nations world food program said Monday that the first humanitarian convoy to enter Tigray in two weeks has arrived in Mekelle.
Here it comes! 🚚🚚🚚 #HappeningNow the first humanitarian convoy to enter #Tigray for two weeks I arrived at #Mekelle!@MMaestracci needs to continue to deliver 1,000 metric tons of wild food in 40 trucks a day #Tigray to meet the emergency food needs of 2.1 million people pic.twitter.com/I5jREgbdUm
– WFP_Ethiopia (@WFP_Ethiopia) July 12, 2021
“WFP needs to continue to provide 1,000 metric tons of wild food on 40 trucks a day to Tigray to meet the emergency food needs of 2.1 million people,” the UN agency said in a statement. on Twitter.
The main roads in Tigray have been blocked by government forces and their allies and at least two bridges destroyed.
Ethiopian authorities have denied blocking aid to Tigray and have said they will rebuild the infrastructure.
The head of European Union foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said Monday that the bloc should be ready to impose sanctions on Ethiopia as a way to push for peace and humanitarian access in Tigray.
“The option of restrictive measures must be on the table,” Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers discussed the conflict, using the EU’s language for economic sanctions. , travel bans and asset freezes.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that Washington has been “gravely concerned” by reports of hostility in the western Tigray and by evidence of a growing military conflict.
“The escalating struggle will undermine ongoing critical efforts to provide humanitarian aid to affected families and affected populations,” he said at a press conference.
Price warned that any effort to change Ethiopia’s internal borders by force would be “unacceptable”.
“Any issue of such national importance, such as borders, would be a matter for the Ethiopian people to decide, through consensual dialogue, not from the barrel of a gun,” he added.