By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - The Ethiopian government on Saturday said security forces have retaken the entire North Wollo zone in the Amhara regional state from Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels.
In a statement, the government communication service said the Ethiopian forces have now take control of key towns in North Wollo, including Woldiya, Hara, Sanqa, Sirinqa, and Kobo.
After the rebels had advanced over 200 kilometers (124 miles) to the northeast of Addis Ababa, a major pushback a month ago by Ethiopian forces was launched after the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the battlegrounds to lead the army in person.
Previously, the government had announced the liberation of the strategically placed town of Mersa along the Dessie-Mekele road.
Reacting to the government’s claim of victory in north Wollo, Getachew Reda, the TPLF spokesman, said the rebel forces left without a fight. “Our withdrawals are their only victories,” he said.
The TPLF also accused the government on Thursday of bombing Alamata with drones causing civilian casualties.
The government, however, said they carried out surgical strikes targeting areas used as military garrisons or military training sites by the rebels.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against the Tigray forces in November last year, after accusing the group of attacking a military base.
On Friday, the deputy UN human rights chief said that the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has expanded to other areas and forced at least 2 million people from their homes and many civilians are not getting assistance.
The Ethiopian government also said nearly 10 million citizens in Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regional states are in need of emergency assistance.