“We’re not dealing with timing, it’s our ultimate total success,” Debretsion Gebremichael, president of the Tigray region, told Tigray TV Monday night.
The Ethiopian prime minister on Sunday urged members of the region’s governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), to surrender “within the next 72 hours, recognizing you are not at a return point”.
But TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said their forces were fighting a fierce front on the front and suggested that if federal forces seize Mekelle’s regional capital, the TPLF would simply change strategies to recapture fallen cities. “We’ll never let you stay safe for a minute,” Reda said on Tigray TV on Monday.
On Tuesday, Getachew told Tigray TV that a prestigious Ethiopian army unit, which he called the 21st Mechanized Division, had been “completely destroyed” in an attack on Raya-Wahirat led by the unit’s former commander, who went to the A TPLF side. reported Reuters.
Billene Seyoum, the prime minister’s spokesman, told Reuters that this was not true.
CNN was unable to verify either party’s statements due to a regional communications power outage.
Government forces say Mekelle is currently being locked up before the promised “last phase” of the military operation there, after strictly warning Tigray forces of the surrender.
The federal military said the third and final phase of the military operation plans to surround the regional capital, Mekelle, with tanks, warning civilians to beware of artillery.
The conflict threatens to undo years of progress in Africa’s second most populous country and the peaceful region of the Horn of Africa.
The conflict spread to Eritrea, where the TPLF fired missiles, and also to Somalia, where hundreds of Ethiopian tigers were disarmed in peacekeeping forces fighting al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and President of the African Union, met with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde on Friday.
The European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom have been urging a reduction in escalation since the beginning of the conflict.