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Tigray's Tigray: Eritrean forces leave key Tigray towns

Three key Tigray towns were taken by soldiers from Eritrea on Tuesday. This was just a day after Tigray fighters seized control of the capital city from retreating Ethiopian forces. Ethiopia's government also declared a unilateral ceasefire. Tigray forces pledged to chase "enemies", signaling an end to the fighting.

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Tigray's Tigray: Eritrean forces leave key Tigray towns

People are scrambling for information about the implications of the almost eight-month-long war, which left a region of 6,000,000 people without communication links. Witnesses who confirmed the withdrawal were in close contact with people. They spoke anonymously for their safety.

Witnesses claimed that Eritrean soldiers fled the towns of Shire and Adwa, but it wasn't immediately clear where they were heading or if the retreat was temporary. Human rights groups have described Eritrea's information ministry as one of the most oppressive countries in the world. They did not respond to inquiries immediately.

Robert Godec (acting U.S. assistant secretary of state) stated that "we don't know yet if they are withdrawing from Tigray" to the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. He stated that the U.S. has not received any statements from Eritrea or from Tigray fighters and they remain committed to the ceasefire.

Godec stated that Tigray's former leaders claimed they now control Mekele, the regional capital. This was after what appeared to be a significant withdrawal by Ethiopian national defense force forces from Tigray.

After a political fall-out with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government in November, Tigray leaders have been waging a guerrilla warfare. They called for supporters to "intensify the struggle until our enemies completely leave Tigray."

Getachew Reda (spokesman for Tigray forces), could not be reached immediately. The phone number of an Ethiopian military spokesperson was not answered.

After some intense fighting in the war in Africa's second largest country, Ethiopia, the temporary regional administration appointed by Ethiopia fled, the arrival of Tigray troops in Mekele was celebrated on Monday.

Tigray fighters moved into Axum & Shire on Tuesday. This town has seen the arrival of hundreds and thousands of people fleeing persecution in western Tigray in recent months and is an important staging area for humanitarian assistance.

William Davison, an International Crisis Group analyst, stated that Tigray forces now control large parts of the region following a major counteroffensive supported by mass popular support.

Davison stated that the TDF's leadership must prevent the growing famine in the region, as their forces are now able to provide access to many previously difficult to reach areas. He urged Ethiopia's government to not impede the urgent humanitarian aid efforts.

There are still major questions about the fates of more than 1,000,000 civilians who, according to the United Nations, remain in Tigray. These areas have proven difficult, if not impossible to reach with humanitarian aid. In the worst decade of hunger, up to 900,000. Americans have stated that famine is now a reality for some 900,000.

The U.S. acting assistant secretary of State stated that the famine was "entirely man-made."

Sarah Charles, the assistant administrator for the United States Agency for International Development told the Washington hearing that it will be a consequential week or so. She called on Ethiopia to lift the "communications blackout" against Tigray, and stated that forces from neighboring Amhara regions must remove checkpoints on important roads for aid delivery.

Stephane Dujarric, U.N. spokesperson, told reporters Tuesday that the "impact of the current circumstances on the humanitarian operations within the region remains unknown right currently." He said that the airport in Mekele was closed and that routes to aid delivery were not open.

Ethiopia claims that the cease-fire was in part to deliver aid, but it will only last until September's crucial Tigray planting season.

People in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city, said that they were unsure who to believe amid the battle claims and hoped for peace.

Biruk Dessalegn, a resident, said that "it's the innocent children and farmers who are at the front line of the war and are suffering."

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