Amhara forces leave northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region, army says

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Forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, who fought in support of federal troops during the two-year war in neighboring Tigray, have withdrawn in line with an Africa Union-backed ceasefire, the army said.

Ethiopia’s federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a guerrilla force-turned political arty that dominates the region, agreed on Nov. 2 to stop fighting following talks.

Withdrawal of the Amhara forces is a key step toward implementing the truce, alongside the disarmament of Tigrayan forces, who began to hand over their heavy weapons on Wednesday.

The conflict, which broke out in November 2020 over disagreements between the Addis Ababa government and Tigrayan authorities, created famine-like conditions for hundreds of thousands, killed tens of thousands and displaced millions across northern Ethiopia.

“The Amhara regional special force, which was in a national mission along with the ENDF, has withdrawn from the area, as perthe deal,” the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) said in a statement late on Thursday.

Gizachew Muluneh, spokesperson for the Amhara regional administration, and Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The restoration of basic services to Tigray, resumption of humanitarian aid and withdrawal of troops from neighbouring Eritrea, who also fought alongside Ethiopia’s army, are also central to the deal.

Eritrean soldiers began to pull out of several major towns in Tigray late last month. However, they have not left those towns entirely, residents say, and it is not clear whether they intend to leave.

Eritrea, which was not a party to the truce, has declined to comment on whether its troops will leave Tigray. Fighters from Amhara entered Tigray in November 2020 to support the army.

They also captured a swathe of territory in western Tigray that they say was historically theirs. It did not appear that the Amhara forces had withdrawn from the western territory.

Experts worry that the long-running territorial dispute could derail prospects for a lasting peace.