Eritrean forces leaving Tigray towns

The pullout may strengthen the peace deal between Ethiopia and Tigray

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) — Convoys of Eritrean troops have been seen leaving two towns in the war-torn Ethiopian region of Tigray, where they had spent the past two years supporting the Ethiopian army in its campaign against Tigrayan rebels, locals told AFP.

According to witnesses, troops have been leaving Shire and Adwa since Friday afternoon for an unknown destination, though some soldiers were still present in the two towns on Saturday.

Neither Tigrayan authorities, nor the Ethiopian government, nor a regional body acting as a mediator have confirmed the retreat to AFP.

“I saw some Eritrean forces leaving Shire towards the northeast. I don’t know if they’re making a full retreat,” one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

A video taken by the resident and sent to AFP showed trucks of soldiers driving out of town with their horns blaring and the Eritrean flag flapping in the wind.

Another local confirmed having seen a convoy of trucks, buses, tanks and pieces of artillery rolling out of town.

But, he added, some Eritrean soldiers were still “walking the streets and around the markets” on Saturday.

The presence of the Eritrean troops, accused by the United States and human rights groups of some of the worst abuses in the bloody conflict, has been seen as the main obstacle to peace in the region, despite the signing of a landmark peace deal between Tigrayan rebels and the Ethiopian government in November.

Eritrean forces have also been seen leaving Adwa, about 85 kilometers to the east of Shire.


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