The Ethiopian army announced, on Sunday, that it has restored its control of the town of Idaga Hamus, 97 km from the Tigray region’s capital Mekelle.
Writing on its official Twitter account, the country’s task force said, “Our defence force took control of Idaga Hamus town, which is located on the road from Adigrat to Mekelle. The defence force is advancing to capture Mekelle, which is the final goal of the operation.”
Federal forces recently seized control of various towns and villages in the rebellious region during aerial bombardments and ground fighting.
On 4 November, tensions between Ethiopia’s Federal Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) turned into a military escalation, as the TPLF took over a federal military base. The TPLF attack resulted in many deaths, injuries, and damage to property.
Moreover, the federal authorities have shut down all facilities in the region, including electricity, telephone and internet services, and declared a state of emergency in Tigray.
About 30,000 refugees of the region’s residents fled to neighbouring Sudan since the start of the fight.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the federal forces warned the rebels in Tigray that they could face the army’s tanks and artillery to end the war. He urged the civilians in the region to “save themselves”.
The United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), among others, called on the parties involved for a truce, with the option for negotiations accepted by the Tigray leaders.
But Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, refused any mediation, and expressed intention to continue the war until ending the insurgency.
“The next phases are the decisive part of the operation, which is to encircle Mekelle using tanks,” military spokesperson Colonel Dejene Tsegaye said in statements to Ethiopian state-media.
He added, “We want to send a message to the public in Mekelle to save yourselves from any artillery attacks and free yourselves from the junta. There will be no mercy.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed for “urgent support” to help the influx of Ethiopian refugees fleeing to Sudan.