Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.
Tigray’s defense forces have reportedly taken control of the regional capital of Mekelle as the Ethiopian appointed interim government and federal troops have been forced to retreat, a bombshell development and potential turning point in the devastating conflict.
“The capital of Tigray, Mekelle, is under our control,” said Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) via Reuters.
The Tigray forces reportedly launched an offensive last week that has resulted in the complete overthrow of the ruling government. As interim government officials have abandoned their posts and fled, witnesses also report seeing federal soldiers and forces retreat from the city of Mekelle.
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“Everybody has left. The last ones left in the afternoon. The region doesn’t have a government,” said an interim government official to AFP.
The Ethiopian government on Monday declared an immediate cease-fire in the Tigray region, which is says will, “enable farmers to till their land, aid groups to operate without any military movement around and engage with remnants who seek peace.”
The conflict in Tigray started as a military campaign nearly eight months ago and has ravaged the war-torn region, leaving roughly 900,000 people suffering from famine-like conditions, millions more at risk, and nearly everyone in need of humanitarian assistance.