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Eritrean troops seen leaving the Ethiopian city of Shire

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By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – A large number of Eritrean soldiers have fled the town of Shire in Ethiopia’s Tigray region where they fought in support of government forces during a two-year civil war, one resident and two told RockedBuzz via Reuters on Saturday. aid workers.

The continued presence of Eritrean forces in Tigray, despite a November ceasefire agreement between the government of Ethiopia and Tigray regional forces requiring the withdrawal of foreign soldiers, is seen as a key obstacle to lasting peace.

The Tigrayan War is believed to have resulted in tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of deaths and forced millions to flee their homes.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the troop movements out of Shire, one of Tigray’s largest cities, were part of an Eritrean withdrawal from the region or simply a redeployment.

Witnesses and an Ethiopian official said last month that Eritrean soldiers were leaving Shire and two other major cities, but many remained behind.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Shire resident said the Eritrean convoys were seen leaving the city from early in the morning until around 5pm on Friday.

“I counted 300 cars,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified for security reasons. “They’re gone with their heavy weapons too.”

An aid worker in Shire, who also requested anonymity, told RockedBuzz via Reuters he saw hundreds of cars filled with soldiers heading north towards the border. All Eritrean troops in the city appeared to have left on Friday night, he said.

A second aid worker said hundreds of Eritrean vehicles had left Shire but some soldiers remained in the town.

Redwan Hussien, national security adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister and member of the government’s negotiating team, did not respond to a RockedBuzz via Reuters request for comment. Not even Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesman Getachew Reda.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday about the withdrawal of Eritrean troops and “welcomed this development, noting that it has been key to ensuring sustainable peace in northern Ethiopia,” according to a statement tweeted by US State Department State spokesman Ned Price.

During the war, Eritrean troops were accused by residents and human rights groups of various abuses, including the killing of hundreds of civilians in the city of Axum during a 24-hour period in November 2020. Eritrea has rejected the accusations.

Eritrea considers the TPLF, which leads the forces of Tigray, its enemy. Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a border war between 1998 and 2000 when the TPLF dominated the federal government.

(Reporting by Dawit EndeshawWriting by Elias BiryabaremaEditing by Aaron Ross, Helen Popper and Raissa Kasolowsky)