Saturday January 21, 2023
Members of the Afar Special Forces clean their weapons next to a damaged house on the outskirts of the village of Bisober, Tigray Region, Ethiopia, on December 09, 2020. (AFP)
Residents from different parts of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region have told the BBC that soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea are withdrawing in large numbers from the areas they have been controlling."They [soldiers] have been travelling in a lot of vehicles," he said.
An eyewitness in Adwa town told the BBC that Eritrean army vehicles have been passing through the town since Friday morning.
Describing the number of soldiers as "like ants" the resident said the vehicles "were sounding trumpets" and the soldiers were singing.
"They were singing with flags and also posting various slogans on their vehicles," he added.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian federal army was guarding the outskirts of the town, the resident said.
According to the peace agreement between the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the withdrawal of foreign forces and non-federal armed groups from Tigray would take place when Tigray forces handed over their heavy weapons to the federal government, which they have.
Another resident of Aksum town also told the BBC that dozens of vehicles transporting Eritrean troops and weapons have been passing through the town.
"I have counted 70 vehicles, 12 tanks, and many others. The soldiers were in different vehicles. They are coming in the direction of Adwa and heading towards the city of Shire," said Berihu Kahsay, who was among residents who lined the streets to witness the withdrawal.
Several sources in Eritrea have also confirmed the mass withdrawal of the troops and military equipment.
Eritrean soldiers were deployed in November 2020 to back the Ethiopian government's offensive in Tigray.
The war which ended in a peace agreement late last year killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
Several human rights organisations accused all parties, including Eritrean soldiers, of committing atrocities during the conflict.