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Eritrea accused of launching full-scale offensive on Ethiopia's Tigray region

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By Euronews  with AP
Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck on a road near Agula, north of Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. 8 May 2021.
Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck on a road near Agula, north of Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. 8 May 2021.   -   Copyright  Ben Curtis/AP

Eritrea launched on Tuesday a full-scale attack along the country’s border with northern Ethiopia in what appeared to be an escalation of last month’s renewal of fighting against Tigray forces. Tigrayan authorities in turn told their people to get ready for war.

The Eritreans are fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces, including commando units, as well as allied militia, said Tigray spokesman Getachew Reda.

"Eritrea is deploying its entire army as well as reservists. Our forces are heroically defending their positions," he posted on Twitter.

Later Tuesday, Tigrayan authorities, in a statement talking about the region’s "existential challenge," asked their people to make themselves ready for war, so that they could ”spoil [their] enemies’ dreams and aspirations once and for all."

A humanitarian worker in the northern Ethiopian town of Adigrat told AP that Eritrean forces were striking the surrounding areas.

The US envoy to the Horn of Africa told reporters Tuesday that Washington has been tracking Eritrean troop movements across the border.

"They are extremely concerning, and we condemn it,” Mike Hammer commented in response to the troop movements. "All external foreign actors should respect Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and avoid fueling the conflict."

He reiterated a call for the warring sides to enter into talks saying that "there is no military solution to the conflict."

The situation inside Tigray remains dire, with millions disconnected from each other and the rest of the world. With banking and communication services ruined, their restoration has been a major demand in mediation efforts.

A full-scale entry of Eritrea into the Tigray war could thwart peace efforts between Tigrayan leaders and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who mended ties with Eritrea shortly after taking office in 2018.

The civil war in Tigray has been raging since November 2020, and has resulted in the death of tens of thousands, over two million people displaced, and a multitude of atrocities.

WHO chief Adhanom Ghebreyesus has accused Western countries of turning a blind eye on the situation in the Horn of Africa, deeming Tigray's humanitarian crisis as "more than Ukraine, without any exaggeration."