Ethiopia says Northern Command is counterattacking Tigray rebels

by Jeremy Binnie

The Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has broken a five-day siege and is now on the offensive against rebel forces in the Tigray region, Chief of Staff General Birhanu Jula said on 11 November.

Tigrayan regional police personnel have joined the TPLF-led rebel forces. (Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front)

Tigrayan regional police personnel have joined the TPLF-led rebel forces. (Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front)

The Ethiopian News Agency cited him as saying the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th mechanised units, as well as the 11th, 20th, 23rd, and 31st battalions had managed to regroup and launch counter attacks on different fronts.

The crisis began with a surprise attack on Northern Command on 4 November by forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that dominated Ethiopia until 2018 and still controls Tigray National Regional State, which has its own police and militia.

In an English-language briefing for foreign journalists on 10 November, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said multiple military bases were attacked and Northern Command HQ in Mekele was captured as most of the personnel there were administrative staff rather than soldiers. He said other units were able to repel the attack and retreat to safer areas, including to the Eritrean border.

He admitted that the situation was confused as the TPLF had cut roads and communications, only briefly switching them on to get its messages out. “The lack of information that everybody has is also true for the government,” he said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed almost immediately ordered the ENDF to launch an operation with the objectives of destroying weapons captured by the TPLF, restoring the rule of law, and bringing the rebel leaders to justice.

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The Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has broken a five-day siege and ...

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