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Satellite images show Eritrea’s military buildup near Tigray

NAIROBI, Kenya – New satellite images from one of the world’s most reclusive countries show a military buildup inside Eritrea near the border with Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, confirming reports from a new large-scale offensive.

Eritrea fought alongside Ethiopia against Tigray forces. He rejects allegations that his soldiers committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict that began in late 2020. Witnesses in Eritrea told The Associated Press this month that people, including students and government officials, were gathered across the country and sent to fight in the new offensive.

Satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies shows what Maxar described as main battle tanks, self-propelled howitzers and a battery of M-46 field guns in the Eritrean town of Serha near the border on September 19. The city is on the other side of the border. the Tigray town of Zalambessa, one of the first communities overrun by war.

Eritrea is one of the most closed countries in the world to independent journalists, and images from there related to the war in Ethiopia are rare.

Tigray forces last week accused Eritrea of ​​launching a large-scale offensive along the border in what appeared to be an escalation in fighting that resumed in August after months of relative calm.

Other satellite images captured on Monday and shared by Maxar show a military mobilization in the tabby town of Sheraro, which an aid worker described to the AP this month as the target of deadly shelling that has left dozens fleeing. of thousands of people. The worker, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The US envoy to the Horn of Africa, who has urged the Ethiopian and Tigrayan sides to stop fighting and hold peace talks, told reporters last week that Washington was monitoring Eritrean troop movements through the border.

“They are extremely concerning and we condemn it,” Mike Hammer said. “All external foreign actors must respect the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and avoid fueling the conflict.”

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, the only leader the country has had since independence three decades ago, remains an enemy of the authorities in Tigray despite the restoration of ties between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2018 following a bloody border war. Authorities in Tigray have bristled at the suggestion by an African Union special envoy that Eritrea be part of talks to end the current conflict.

The war in Tigray is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people and left millions in the region without basic services like telephone, electricity and banking services for more than a year. Independent journalists and human rights researchers are prohibited from entering the region.

washingtonpost Gt

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