The Ethiopian government has launched major offensive strikes against rebel forces in the Tigray area nearly a year into the country’s civil war.
Getachew Reda, a senior member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, told Bloomberg in a text that the government had used airstrikes and artillery bombardment over the past two days.
“At this stage, it is mostly air, drone and artillery bombardment,” Getachew told the outlet, saying that pro-government fighters had been seen in several towns near the Tigray border.
The step-up of offensive strikes developed quickly after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was inaugurated for another five-year term, according to Bloomberg.
“We will maintain our defensive positions. We are confident we will thwart the offensive on all fronts,” Getachew said, although Bloomberg reported his account could not be independently verified.
The moves come weeks after the Biden administration gave the green light for the Treasury Department and State Department to place sanctions on individuals involved in the fighting in Ethiopia.
“Unless the parties take concrete steps to resolve the crisis, the administration is prepared to take aggressive action under this new executive order to impose targeted sanctions against a wide range of individuals or entities,” a senior administration official said at the time.
Ethiopian federal government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front have been fighting since November, with both sides accused of raping and killing civilians.
At least 52,000 have been killed so far, opposition groups estimated earlier this year.