Finally, Eritrean troops withdraw from Ethiopia's Tigray region
ADDIS ABABA - After weeks of anxiety following the signing of a peace deal between the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] and the government of Ethiopia, the Eritrean troops who have been giving Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] backup in the Tigray war have reportedly withdrawn from all fronts.
According to the BBC, the Eritreans whose presence in Tigray has been a thorn in the flesh, have started withdrawing in large numbers following sustained pressure from members of the international community. The move will fasten the implementation of the Nairobi and Pretoria peace accords.
Last month the troops left Shire and Axum after the TPLF raised concerns about their continued presence, noting that they would sabotage the peace deal. Eyewitnesses told BBC that the soldiers have now left Adwa, another town in Tigray after their vehicles were seen moving to the north.
"They [soldiers] have been traveling in a lot of vehicles," he said.
Describing the number of soldiers as "like ants" the resident said the vehicles "were sounding trumpets" and the soldiers were singing. "They were singing with flags and also posting various slogans on their vehicles," he added.
Currently, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces are guarding the outskirts of the strategic town, residents noted. The peace agreement had dictated that TPLF hands over weapons to the government of Ethiopia while Addis Ababa was requested to supervise the withdrawal of foreign troops from Tigray.
Another resident of Aksum town also told the BBC that dozens of vehicles transporting Eritrean troops and weapons have been passing through the town.
"I have counted 70 vehicles, 12 tanks, and many others. The soldiers were in different vehicles. They are coming in the direction of Adwa and heading towards the city of Shire," said Berihu Kahsay, who was among residents who lined the streets to witness the withdrawal.
Eritrean soldiers along with the Amhara regional militia have been supporting ENDF in Tigray since the war started in November 2020, and are accused of committing genocide in the region. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said that had the peace deal failed, over 600,000 people would be dying daily in Ethiopia.
The Eritrean troops who were deployed by Isaias Afwerki, the strongman of Eritrea, are also accused of rape and violation of human rights since their entry to Ethiopia. Eritrea has been working with embattled Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is directly blamed for the skirmishes in Tigray.