Share This Post

Ethiopia’s Tigray war: Troops build-up near Eritrea border

Ethiopia’s Tigray war: Troops build-up near Eritrea border

Satellite images have provided a rare glimpse into the resurgence of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, one of the world’s most hidden conflicts, where communications have been disrupted and journalists have been denied access.

Images taken this month show a buildup of troops and military hardware along Ethiopia’s border with Eritrea, which supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s opposition to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the region.

Eritrea recently mobilized its reserve forces in preparation for an alleged offensive in Tigray.

After a five-month humanitarian ceasefire expired in August, fighting resumed.

The World Food Programme estimates that 13 million people in northern Ethiopia require assistance as a result of the civil war.

On September 26, the first images were taken of the northwestern town of Shiraro, which had been in the hands of Tigrayan forces.

The image above depicts the main road exiting town and heading east.

Tanks can be found on the main road in the bottom left corner. The Maiani Hospital, on the right, opened in 2014 and has surgical rooms, an obstetrics department, X-ray facilities, and 35 beds.

Also read: COVID-19: We may stop working if social activities are not banned

Around 150 people, most likely fighters, appear to be organized in a formation or queue stretching from the entrance back to the main road.

According to reports from last year, the hospital was severely damaged.

MSF reported in March 2021 that its teams discovered health facilities throughout the region, including Maiani hospital, “looted, vandalized, and destroyed in a deliberate and widespread attack.”

Only 13% of the 106 centers they visited were operational. “While some looting may have been opportunistic, health facilities in most areas appear to have been deliberately vandalized to render them inoperable,” MSF said.

Destroyed hospital

The BBC spoke with a senior aid worker in Shire, 95 kilometers (60 miles) east of Shiraro. He claims that since September 1st, approximately 210,000 people have fled Shiraro and the surrounding areas to Shire.

“There was continuous shelling for one week before the people left the town, it was 24 hours, continuous,” he told the BBC.

For the sake of the aid worker’s safety, we have concealed his identity.

According to those fleeing and his staff who had been posted to Shiraro, Eritrean and Ethiopian government forces now control Maiani Hospital.

General Tedesse Werede, the commander of the Tigrayan Forces, told local media on September 13 that “the joint Eritrean and Ethiopian army in Shiraro has taken control of areas from Shiraro to Ademeiti.”
It is unclear who is currently in charge of Shiraro; an aid worker in Shire told the BBC that reports change on a daily basis.

The images show “towed artillery in firing positions” less than a kilometer south of the hospital, according to Maxar, the company that released them.

It’s unclear what the artillery is aiming for.

Satellite images

The Eritrean or Ethiopian governments have not commented on their presence in Shiraro.
However, last week, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa told journalists that Eritrean troops crossing into Ethiopia “must stop.”

“We’ve been keeping tabs on Eritrean troop movements across the border.” “The presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia only complicates and inflames an already tragic situation,” said Mike Hammer.

Maxar captured a long line of about 45 vehicles on the other side of Shiraro, about six kilometers (4 miles) away. They appear to be a group of buses traveling towards the town.

Satellite images

Another, a smaller group of about 20 military vehicles and buses, also facing Shiraro, is five kilometers down the road.

This is the Adi Goshu Road, which connects Shiraro to western Tigray’s largest town, Humera, and, eventually, Eritrea, 180 kilometers (110 miles) away and takes about three hours to drive.

Since the end of 2020, Western Tigray has been under the control of the Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Amhara Special Forces, as well as the Amhara militia Fano group.

Western Tigray is claimed by the Amhara region.

The satellite image shows buses and vehicles of the same type seen previously on Adi Goshu Road parked next to and between some buildings in this location off the road near Shiraro.

Satellite images

The vehicles are no longer visible in satellite imagery of the same location the next morning, indicating that they have moved.

This corresponds with reports from people who have fled Shire indicating that positions in town are shifting between opposing forces.

By 14 September, at least ten people had been killed by fighting in and around Shiraro, according to an internal document obtained by the BBC from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

According to the senior aid worker, 210,000 people have fled the area, including 45,000 internally displaced people from western Tigray.

Maxar also released images taken on September 19 around the Eritrean town of Serha, which is only one kilometer from the Ethiopian border and not far from the Ethiopian town of Zalambessa.

The Tigray authorities said in a statement the day after these images were taken that Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki had “mobilised Eritrea’s entire army, reservists, and militia, launching massive offensives via Zalambessa,” among other locations.

Maxar identified it as an M-46 field gun battery located to the north of Serha.

Satellite images

A little further south, next to a cemetery, Maxar identified this as an S21 SP howitzer battery. The tracks left in the ground as they took up their positions are clearly visible in the earth to the left of the image.

Satellite images

And much closer to the Ethiopian border, Maxar identified this as the main battle tank deployment. These positions are within one kilometre of the border – from here, you could walk to Ethiopia in about 15 minutes.

Satellite images                   Satellite images


Source: BBC

Follow Clicks ‘n Likes On Facebook for more updates


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>