The Ethiopian army continued to launch air and ground strikes targeting Tigray militants in the Amhara region in the northern side of the country. The bombing affected many areas in the rebellious region.
Aiming to gain the upper hand in an escalating armed conflict nearly a year ago, the Ethiopian forces launched a new offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on Saturday.
The bombardment extended to many areas in Amhara, amid growing speculation about a major attack by government forces on the rebels. TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said there was a “major attack” against his forces.
Reda confirmed the occurrence of mostly air shelling, drone and artillery bombardment targeting the TPLF, as well as large military reinforcements. He added that tens of thousands were mobilised in the northern parts of Amhara, including the regions of North Gondar and North Wolu. “We are confident that we will confront the attack on all fronts and more,” he said, stressing, “We will not retreat until the siege is lifted.”
Since November 2020, thousands of Tigray residents have been killed and hundreds of thousands more forced from their homes to other regions or crossing borders to Sudan, escaping from the war.
The new offensive comes days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in for a new 5-year term last week. Ahmed pledged to defend “Ethiopia’s honour” despite the growing international criticism of the conflict and concerns about the humanitarian crisis it caused.
It also comes amid threats that the United States may impose sanctions on Ethiopian individuals and entities responsible for the violence.
In May, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced imposing restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia but humanitarian aid in areas such as health, food and education.
The American restrictions target “current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals – to include Amhara regional and irregular forces and members of TPLF – responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray.”
Addis Ababa rejected the US sanctions accusing Washington of meddling in its affairs.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that more than 5 million people needed humanitarian assistance, and urged the Ethiopian authorities to allow the international organisations to deliver aid without hindrance.