Tigray Fighters Believe Cease-Fire Agreement is Fake, Continue Fighting in Ethiopia

Tigray fighters continued the battle in Ethiopia after rejecting the cease-fire proposed by the Ethiopian government on Monday, and vowed push Ethiopian and Eritrean forces out of the area.

The Ethiopian government said there were plans for its military to potentially re-enter the Tigray region within weeks despite the cease-fire agreement, which Tigray forces told the Associated Press was a "sick joke."

Tigray forces' spokesman Getachew Reda said Ethiopian forces are still fighting for territory in the region and Eritrean forces control a "significant part."

"We have to make sure that every inch of our territory is returned to us, the rightful owners," Getachew said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ethiopian conflict
Lieutenant General Bacha Debele (right) of the Ethiopian National Defense Force at a press conference with State Minister of Foreign Affairs and Spokesperson for the State of Emergency Taskforce Redwan Hussein talking about the situation in the country's northern Tigray region, in the capital Addis Ababa on June 30, 2021. Tigray fighters continued the battle in Ethiopia after rejecting the cease-fire proposed by the government on Monday. Mulugeta Ayene/AP Photo

Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the Tigray emergency task force, spoke to reporters on Wednesday in Ethiopia's first public remarks since its soldiers retreated from the Tigray capital and other parts of the region on Monday in a dramatic turn in the nearly eight-month war.

There will be no negotiations with Ethiopia until communications, transport and other services that have been cut or destroyed for much of the war are restored, Getachew told the AP on Wednesday.

The Tigray spokesman also issued a warning to the longtime president of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, who has long been an enemy of Tigray's leaders and sent soldiers into Tigray to support Ethiopian forces. Witnesses have accused the Eritrean soldiers of some of the worst atrocities in the conflict.

"We will do anything in our power make sure that Isaias will never be a threat again," Getachew said.

Officials for Eritrea, described by human rights groups as one of the world's most repressive nations, have not responded to requests for comment. While witnesses saw Eritrean soldiers retreat from the key Tigray towns of Shire, Axum and Adwa on Tuesday, it is not clear whether Eritrea will adhere to the cease-fire.

With the war likely to continue, the fate of more than 1 million Tigrayans in hard-to-reach areas is in question as Ethiopia and authorities on the ground are accused of blocking access for the delivery of aid. Phone and internet services remain cut.

Ethiopia has said it declared the cease-fire in part on humanitarian grounds but said it would end once the crucial farming season in Tigray is over, which means September.

Ethiopian Lt. Gen. Bacha Debele on Wednesday said the military had to move forces from Tigray to face "bigger threats" and referred to the border but denied the possibility of a conflict with neighboring Sudan over disputed lands.

Tigray victims
Tigray forces said Ethiopia's call for a cease-fire was a "sick joke." At least 64 people were killed and 180 were injured in an airstrike on a market in Ethiopia's war-torn northern Tigray region, a local health officer said. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images