Tigrayan rebels in Ethiopia say government forces and troops from neighboring Eritrea have launched a coordinated offensive, as fighting intensifies in the region.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front said on Twitter that Eritrean forces have joined Ethiopian federal forces in the fight against the TPLF.
Getachew Reda said the forces launched what he called a “massive four-pronged offensive” early Thursday in the Adyabo area of northwestern Tigray, adding that TPLF forces are defending their positions.
A later statement by the Tigray Military Command said planes belonging to Ethiopian Airlines are being used to transport military personnel and supply munitions to troops in the north.
There has been no independent confirmation of the TPLF accusations. An Ethiopian government spokesperson and the Eritrean ministry of information did not respond to requests for comment.
In their own statements, Ethiopian officials have accused the TPLF of launching attacks in Amhara this week.
Bloomberg News reports that Ethiopia’s foreign minister told diplomats Thursday that the government is taking measures against Tigrayan forces while trying to avoid civilian casualties.
William Davison, analyst with the International Crisis Group, a research institution based in Belgium, said, “Now Tigrayan reports, which seem to be accurate, of a large-scale incursion into Tigray from the north by Eritrean and federal forces. So, it is evident that the conflict is now seriously escalating.
“There are also reports of confrontations and a heavy federal military buildup around Wag Hemra in northern Amhara, a little bit to the west of where fighting started, shows that the fighting has spread to a major new front,” he added.
Eritrea is a longtime opponent of the TPLF, which effectively ruled Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018.
Fighting between Tigrayan fighters and pro-Ethiopian government forces resumed in northern Ethiopia a week ago, ending a five-month cease-fire.
As a result, the U.N. has stopped humanitarian aid deliveries to Tigray, where relief groups say parts of the region are likely in a state of famine.