In several towns across Ethiopia’s Tigray region, witnesses confirmed that troops from neighboring Eritrea had withdrawn in large convoys concurrently with the handing over of large quantities of TPLF heavy weapons to the Ethiopian army.
“The Eritrean forces have started withdrawing from Shire in large convoys today,” a humanitarian worker in Shire town told The Associated Press on Friday.
A civil servant in the town of Axum also said residents had been told to avoid the main street as Eritrean forces started to exit from the area.
A resident in the town of Adwa also confirmed the withdrawal of Eritrean forces there.
The withdrawal of Eritrean forces from these major Tigray towns represents a significant progress towards the full implementation of the Pretoria agreement signed between the TPLF rebels and the Ethiopian government.
The Eritrean forces wasn’t party to the agreement.
The agreement has already brought some normalcy to the Tigray region where displaced families can now reconnect as the region comes out of a long spell of isolation from the rest of Ethiopia.
The Eritrean army entered Ethiopia’s conflict after Tigray rebel forces attacked the capital Asmara and other Eritrean towns with dozens of rockets during the first days of the war, and have openly threatened to invade Eritrea once its regime change mission to Addis Ababa was complete.
We strongly condemn the attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front against Eritrea and the attempt to internationalize the conflict. We urge the TPLF and the Ethiopian authorities to take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, restore peace, and protect civilians.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 17, 2020
Federalists had accused the TPLF for scripting its own defeat by dragging Eritrea in to the conflict.
The conflict believed to have killed over 500,000 lives, mostly combatants, and displaced millions in the northern part of Ethiopia.
TPLF, while dominating Ethiopian politics for close to 30 years, has been a bitter enemy of Eritrea that led to the bloody border war from 1998 to 2000.
Abiy made peace with Eritrea shortly after taking office in 2018.