Oct 18, 2022 - World

Ethiopia's army captures three cities in Tigray region

A convoy of trucks part of a convoy of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Trucks part of a convoy of the World Food Programme are seen on their way to Tigray in the village of Erebti, Ethiopia, on June 9. Photo: Eduardo Soteras/AFP via Getty Images

Government forces in Ethiopia have successfully captured three cities in the country's northern Tigray region from rebel forces, the government announced in a statement Tuesday.

Driving the news: "The ENDF (Ethiopian National Defence Force) has taken control of the towns of Shire, Alamata, and Korem without fighting in urban areas," the government said in a statement, Reuters reported.

State of play: Shire, located northwest of the regional capital Mekelle, is a strategic crossroads that is a starting point for the main highway leading to Mekelle and it contains an airport, according to the Washington Post.

  • Residents of Shire fled the city over the weekend following several days of airstrikes and artillery fire, the Post reported.
  • The cities of Korem and Alamata, south of Mekelle, lie along the main road that leads to the neighboring region of Amhara, per Reuters.

The big picture: Fighting began in Ethiopia's Tigray region in November 2020 and has led to what the UN has described as a de facto aid blockade.

  • While a ceasefire agreement was reached in March, it was scuttled in August when fighting broke out between government forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front.
  • "The situation in Ethiopia is spiraling out of control," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted Monday.
  • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in August called the humanitarian crisis caused by Tigray's conflict the "worst disaster on Earth."
  • There have been credible reports of ethnic cleansing and of the government using starvation as a weapon of war, Axios' Zachary Basu writes.
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