Ethiopia denies launching 'major offensives' against Tigray rebels

Pro-TPLF rebels arriving in Makele

Pro-TPLF rebels arriving in Makele, the Tigray capital. The Ethiopian national army has reportedly launched heavy air and ground offensives against positions of Tigray forces in the Amhara.

Photo credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP

The Ethiopian government on Thursday confirmed reports of an ongoing large scale offensives in the country's northern regions.Addis Ababa however denied Tigray rebel group's allegations saying that the Ethiopian army was the one that started the latest major offensives.The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), on Monday said that the Ethiopian army, alongside allied Amhara forces had launched a ground and aerial offensives in a bid to re-invade Tigray and called on the international community to condemn the attack."On the morning of October 11, the Ethiopian military with the support of Amhara special forces launched coordinated offensives on all fronts," TPLF  said, adding that the large-scale offensive is backed by heavy weapons, tanks, rockets, drones and fighter jets.A senior TPLF member, on that same day said that the government offensive launched a few days earlier was in "full swing".'Final Offensive'"Abiy Ahmed's so-called 'Final Offensive' is in full swing now. Our forces are holding their ground and more in Wegeltena, Geregera, Wurgessa and Haro fronts" said Getachew Reda, TPLF spokesman.After about a week, Addis Ababa has now broken the silence over the alleged attacks.In a statement issued Thursday night, the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense blamed the Tigrayan rebel forces for intensifying the war.The statement added that the TPLF has since Monday launched a large-scale offensives on all fronts, declaring that "it would shorten the war and enter Addis Ababa in two weeks, thereby to change the political, military and diplomatic situation" of the country.Large-scale attacksHowever the rebel TPLF has suffered heavy casualties on all fronts since Monday, the ministry said."They are being punished for their actions,"The Ministry further said that the rebels’ previous series of large-scale attacks aimed at cutting off the Djibouti-Ethiopia line and attempting to open a corridor through Sudan by attacking Wolkait Tegede areas and attempting to eventually enter Addis Ababa within weeks had been thwarted.The latest large-scale fighting is feared to prolong the ongoing bloody civil war further leading to a bloodshed and more civilian suffering in Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions where millions of civilians are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.The reported new phase of military operations comes only a few days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in for a new 5-year term. At his ceremonial speech, Abiy didn't give a clue on whether his new government would pursue such a big offensive against Tigrayan forces.However, the 2018 Nobel peace laureate seems to have given a top priority to que6 TPLF movement via military means rather than a peaceful settlement.National dialogue"In order to narrow our differences we will have a national dialogue," Abiy said at the October 4 government formation ceremony which took place in the presence of leaders from Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria among others.The conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) expressed hope that all parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia would eventually come to the negotiating table.Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security on Friday said that the continental bloc is consulting with all parties to bring a peaceful settlement to the conflict.He said the African Union is consulting with the parties involved in the conflict on key issues to bring a lasting political solution to the conflict in northern Ethiopia.The recent appointment of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the High Representative for the Horn of Africa is a testament to the AU's commitment to end the conflict, he said.