Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the “final and crucial” offensive will be launched in Tigray in the coming days. Since Abiy ordered a military operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on November 4th, he has been promising that it will come to a quick end.
Abiy said a three-day deadline for the TPLF to surrender expired on Tuesday. “The final critical act of law enforcement will be done in the coming days,” Abiy said in a statement. An Ethiopian government official told The Associated Press that the army was already marching to Tigray’s capital Mekelle and said the operation will be “brief.”
The fighting has already spilled outside of Ethiopia’s borders. The TPLF launched missiles at Eritrea’s capital after accusing the country of sending troops over the border the help Abiy’s forces. The US denounced the TPLF’s attack on Eritrea on Tuesday.
“We strongly condemn the attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front against Eritrea and the attempt to internationalize the conflict,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter. “We urge the TPLF and the Ethiopian authorities to take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, restore peace, and protect civilians.”
The TPLF’s leader said on Tuesday that fighting was still ongoing in the southern Tigray town of Alamata, despite claims from the federal government the day before that the town had been “liberated” from the TPLF.
Since the fighting started, internet and phone service have been cut off in Tigray, making it impossible for media outlets to confirm the death toll. It is estimated that hundreds have died so far, although a diplomatic source told Reuters that the number is in the thousands. The conflict has also sent about 30,000 refugees into Sudan.