Ethiopia: U.S. Urges Withdrawal of Eritrean, Ethiopian Forces From Tigray

Ethiopia Tigray map (file photo).

The US government has urged Eritrea and Ethiopia to immediately withdraw their deployed forces from the war-torn Tigray region.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the US State Department said that it is "gravely concerned" over reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the northern Tigray region bordering Eritrea.

"We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organisations have reported in Tigray," said Antony J. Blinken, US Secretary of State.

This comes days after Amnesty International reported that hundreds of people were massacred by Eritrean troops in the historic city of Axum.

The withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from Tigray is a significant step forward towards normalising the worrying situation in the region, the statement said.

"This should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray," Blinken said.

He also urged all parties to refrain from using force and exercise maximum restraint in a bid to allow humanitarian access to millions of people who are in desperate need.

Since the Tigray conflict broke out in early November, Asmara and Addis Ababa have repeatedly denied involvement of Eritrean forces in the ongoing war.

However, officials from Tigray's interim government last week reportedly admitted that Eritrean forces' presence was "undeniable"

Amnesty International said in a detailed report on Friday that mass killings by Eritrean soldiers in Axum could be a crime against humanity, adding that the death toll in Axum could be higher.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, has criticised the report as "incomplete and inaccurate". Similarly, Eritrea has downplayed the rights group's reports.

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