Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has indicated further crucial victories against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) even as the rebels claimed they had only retreated to strategise.
In a statement, Dr Ahmed said his troops had captured several towns from the TPLF in the past few days, including those deemed strategic for the rebels.
“Woreillu Front: Ajbar, Tenta & Doba towns retaken from TPLF. Kemisse Front: Majete, Chereti, Iriqe, Woledi, Albuko, Kemisse towns and most of Qalu Woreda liberated from the terrorist TPLF groups,” Ethiopia’s Office of the Prime Minister claimed in a tweet.
The PM said the national forces had reclaimed North Shoa, Kombolcha and Dessie, promising to annihilate the rebels soon.
There was no independent proof, although the TPLF called the declaration a "circus".
‘Deliberately left towns’
Mr Getachew Reda, spokesman said the group had deliberately left these towns.
"There was no organised unit to ‘liberate’ these towns and the residents know it and Abiy’s generals know it. Things are going according to our plan," he said.
“Our territorial adjustments are already taking shape. From Tarma Ber all the way through to Dessie, we have crushed enemy contingents.”
On Monday this week, Abiy’s office also claimed that it took control of an additional six towns from TPLF - Bati, Gerba, Kersa, Degan, Dessie and Kombolcha.
Old strategic plan
But, in response, TPLF said they left those towns as part of their old strategic plan.
“We left North Shoa, Kombolcha and Dessie as part of our plan,” the rebels said.
Last week, PM Abiy defended his frontline actions and declared ‘victory’ over TPLF.
The premier’s office said that his actions did not negate the need for peace, just that his forces were pushing back against a group he labelled terrorist.
When the national forces first launched attacks on TPLF in November 2020, Abiy declared an end to the operation five weeks later, but the fighting continued.
By late June, the rebels had retaken most of Tigray, including Mekele. TPLF has in recent weeks claimed they were on a march to Addis Ababa, raising the urgency of ceasefire calls.
On Wednesday last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a swift end to the fighting while on a visit to Colombia to mark the fifth anniversary of a peace deal between the government and former Farc rebels.