Tigray rebels capture Kombolcha city in Ethiopia's Amhara region

TPLF rebels

Rebels who are pro-TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front), arrive after eight hours of walking in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 29, 2021.

Photo credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP

Tigrayan rebels, Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) on Sunday claimed that their forces had taken control of another strategic city in Ethiopia's Amhara region. 

TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said that rebel forces were "firmly in control of Kombolcha", an industrial city only 20 kilometers from Dessie city.

The new claim comes less than 24 hours after the rebel forces took control of the strategic city of Dessie.

A political analyst who spoke to Nation.africa on a condition of anonymity said that the fall of Kombolcha, an industrial city, will pave a way for the Tigrayan forces to advance towards the capital Addis Ababa.

Safe transition

As TPLF forces advance further deep into the south Amhara region following the main highway that leads to Addis Ababa, the rebel group hints at a "safe transition" proposal for a potential post-prime minister Abiy Ahmed era.

TPLF said it "will continue to work with all stakeholders who want to see a safe transition in Ethiopia"

Fighting between the federal government and the TPLF, erupted in November last year. The civil war has killed thousands and displaced millions.

About 5.2 million people, about 90 per cent of the Tigray population, are currently in need of emergency assistance. Hundreds of thousands are also facing famine.

The rebel group today pledged to cooperate with UN aid agencies on their efforts to aid provision in conflict affected areas in north Ethiopia.

"In the meantime, we will cooperate with the UN in managing their aid efforts in Tigray and Amhara including by protecting their warehouses" Getachew said.

Siege on Tigray

The TPLF official said that TPLF forces will continue to take all appropriate measures to break the siege imposed on the people of Tigray.

"It needs to be clear once again that we don’t have other motives than breaking the deadly siege on our people" said Getachew in a statement he issued in his Twitter page.

International aid agencies have been accusing the Ethiopian government of deliberately hampering humanitarian assistance to Tigray, an allegation Addis Ababa denies.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Air Force on Sunday carried out airstrikes outside the Tigray capital.

Sunday's airstrikes hit the town of Agulae, about 60 kilometers away from Mekelle, the capital of Tigray.

Addis Ababa said that the fresh attacks targeted a former military camp of the Ethiopian Army which allegedly was turned into a training centre for Tigrayan fighters.

 This is the 11th time for Ethiopian bomber jets to strike rebel-held targets in the troubled Tigray region since the military launched aerial bombardments in the region early last week.

Final offensives

The fall of the two strategic cities will be a big blow to the Ethiopian government who recently launched major offensives to drive out Tigrayan forces from the Amhara region.

On October 11, the Ethiopian army launched what it said was a "final and decisive offensive" against the TPLF, a former dominant ruling party turned rebel.

The conflict took a new phase during the past two weeks as the Ethiopian military also regularly carries out airstrikes as part of the major offensives to quell the TPLF, a rebel group which is fighting government and allied forces in Tigray, Amhara and  Afar regions.

US condemnation

The United States government last week condemned Ethiopia for an escalation of violence after the military launched deadly air strikes in Mekelle and urged warring factions to immediately cease hostilities and engage in peace talks.

Previously, the US government has threatened to impose sanctions if the parties to the Tigray conflict fail to reach a negotiated settlement to end the nearly one-year long running bloody civil war.