Washington called on Tigrayan rebels on Saturday to withdraw from the Amhara and Afar regions in northern Ethiopia, where fighting has intensified.
A State Department statement also urged the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to “halt their advances in and around the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha.”
Tigrayan rebels said Saturday they have secured “full control” of the strategic northern Ethiopia city of Dessie, prompting furious denial by the government, even as residents reported that federal forces withdrew. of the area.
The rebels’ capture of Dessie marks a new step in their offensive in the nearly year-long war, after they recaptured most of Tigray from federal forces in June and expanded their presence to neighboring regions.
“We urge the TPLF not to use artillery against cities and recall our strong objections to ENDF airstrikes in Mekelle and other areas of Tigray that have cost countless lives,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in the statement, referring to the Ethiopian National Defense. Strength.
“There is no military solution to this conflict and all parties must begin ceasefire negotiations without preconditions.”
Dessie, which is in Tigray’s neighboring Amhara region, is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
Residents had previously reported a heavy military build-up in the area, as civilians fleeing conflict-affected cities further north flocked to Dessie for refuge.
Much of northern Ethiopia is blocked from communications and access for journalists is restricted, making independent verification of claims on the battlefield difficult.