Ethiopian troops recapture historic Lalibela from Tigray rebels
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] announced the recapture of the historic town of Lalibela, in the ongoing attack on the Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], which reduced advances to the south as a strategy to survive operations.
State media have shown alleged photos of Deputy Prime Minister Mekonnen visiting the historic town, famous for its rock-hewn churches among other important shrines. Lalibela has been on TDF for five months.
But despite the announcement by state media, it is not known when Federal troops took control of the city, which
has spiritual significance for millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and has changed hands on several occasions during conflict with rebel forces in the northern province of Tigray.
TDF troops captured it in August but government forces pushed them back in early December in an ongoing offensive that forced the Tigrayans to retreat hundreds of kilometers. The TDF has been moving further north since early December 2021.
Residents reported last Sunday that the Tigrayans had recaptured the city after the army and its allies withdrew. TDF target strategic towns across the country as war rages on.
The year-long conflict between Tigray’s rulers and the central government has killed thousands of civilians, drawn by forces from across Ethiopia, and spread to neighboring areas of Amhara and Afar after the Tigrayan forces invaded them.
It has also forced 400,000 people to starve in Tigray, with more than 9.4 million people in northern Ethiopia now dependent on food aid, according to the United Nations, reports Reuters.
But despite TDF’s withdrawal, spokesman Getachew Reda maintains the decision to leave is strategic, adding that the Federal Army has misinformed the public of their alleged successes in northern Ethiopia.
“Six days ago, I quoted the press release from PP which claimed that their forces had cut off the main Waldiya-Mekelle road. This was intended to distract from the Gashena debacle. Today, they ‘ cut the highway again. Our withdrawals are their only victories, “he noted.