US believes reports of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia Tigray region are ‘credible’: report
U.S. officials believe reports of Eritrean military forces in the Tigray region of Ethiopia to be “credible,” a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.
Reuters first reported Tuesday that a U.S. government source and five regional diplomats had been briefed that Eritrean soldiers were helping Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government fight against the region’s opposition group, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
However, both Ethiopia and Eritrea denied the presence of Eritrean forces in the region.
“We are aware of credible reports of Eritrean military involvement in Tigray and view this as a grave development. We urge that any such troops be withdrawn immediately,” the spokesperson told the news service.
On Tuesday, the wire service reported that a senior diplomat from another country reported there were thousands of Eritrean forces in the region.
The department also noted reports of human rights abuses by the Eritrean government, both domestically and in Tigray.
“We are also aware of reports of human rights violations and abuses in the region. All parties must respect human rights and international humanitarian law,” the department spokesperson told Reuters. “We and other international partners continue to urge an independent investigation of the reports and accountability for those found responsible.”
The U.S. considers Ethiopia an ally in the east African region, and Washington has accused Eritrea of human rights violations in the past including jailing political opponents and forcing citizens into long-term government or military positions.
Abiy won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the peace process with Eritrea, but Eritrean troops crossing the border could risk anxiety from Western allies and exacerbating the conflict, according to the news service.
Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki agreed to end a two-decade conflict in 2018 and have united against the TPLF, an insurgent group based in the northern region.
Abiy said last week that some troops had retreated over the Eritrean border early in the conflict but has denied Eritrean forces entered Ethiopia.
Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh has dismissed the reports as “propaganda,” according to Reuters.
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