Eritrean troops have left the ancient city of Axum in Tigray but remain in two other towns in the war-stricken Ethiopian region according to residents, as the United States hailed a pullout seen as key to a landmark peace deal.
The Eritrean army moved across the border into Tigray to support federal government forces against the region’s dissident authorities in a conflict that erupted in November 2020 where untold numbers of civilians were killed and set off a desperate humanitarian crisis.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a peace deal in South Africa’s capital Pretoria in November last year silencing the guns in the north of Africa’s second most populous state but the deal didn’t include Eritrea, whose troops have been accused by the United States and rights groups of some of the worst atrocities in the conflict — including the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Axum.
According to one resident, Eritrean soldiers left the city carrying dozens of artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, and tanks and no Eritrean soldiers were in the city at the moment.
Large movements of troops and armor have also been witnessed in recent days in the Tigrayan towns of Adwa and Shire, which lie on the same east-west road as Axum but according to residents, Large convoys of soldiers start leaving the town on Friday in buses and trucks with some carrying banners declaring “Game Over”.