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Tigray crisis: Ethiopian government says it has regained control of towns in Amhara

The Ethiopian government said that its forces had regained control of a number of towns in the Amhara region, which had fallen to the Tigray rebels.

Government forces also announced over the weekend that they had made progress in the Afar region.

This came after the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, said that he will leave the capital, Addis Ababa, to lead military operations on the front lines.

It was not possible to confirm the news about the government forces’ gains from an independent source.

But it would be a painful blow to the rebels, who threatened to advance south through the Amhara region, advance towards the capital Addis Ababa, or advance east, and threaten a road linking Ethiopia, which has no water outlet, to the most important port in the region.

Ahmed’s office posted on his Twitter account that the Ethiopian forces had taken control of the town of Shewa Robit, 220 kilometers northeast of Addis Ababa, as well as 8 other towns and villages.

He said that the government armed forces had liberated the districts of Mizezu and Mulali Roza from TPLF fighters.

The Front did not comment on the central government’s statements.

Reuters spoke to a woman from the village of Grani Amba, located 25 km southwest of the town of Lalibela, which is classified as a world heritage with its rock churches, and said that Tigray forces left her village yesterday.

“I thought they were joking, and they said a lot of Abiy’s forces are coming.. And this morning we saw special forces from Amhara. They told us they were here for us, and they tried to reassure us,” the woman said.

She added that the Amhara forces left on Wednesday morning towards Lalibela, and that those coming from there said that the Tigrayan forces also left the area.

Reuters also spoke to two Lalibela residents who fled the fighting, who reported that relatives had called them and told them that Tigray forces had left the town.

Phone connections were cut off in the town, but relatives went to an area near the airport, where mobile phone coverage is still available, to make the call.

However, this news could not be confirmed by an independent source in Lalibela.

The armed conflict in Ethiopia raised the fears of Western countries, which saw Ahmed as a reformer and an important ally in the region. But his handling of the Tigray crisis made him the target of European and American criticism.

Contrary to Washington’s position, Russia and China view the crisis from a different angle.

The Ethiopian Foreign Minister posted on his Twitter account video images from the press conference of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his visit to the country, saying: “China is against any foreign interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.”

The war broke out when Ahmed sent the Ethiopian army to the northern Tigray region, justifying his decision to attack the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front forces on a government army position there.

Thousands were killed during a year of armed conflict between central government forces and Tigray leaders. The fighting has driven millions from their homes and left 9 million people in need of food assistance.