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Regional Forces in Ethiopia Withdraw from Tigray

FILE - Amhara militia men who fight alongside federal and regional forces against northern region of Tigray, receive training in the outskirts of the village of Addis Zemen, north of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on Nov. 10, 2020.

Ethiopia’s army says Amhara forces that allied with them in the war against Tigrayan rebels have withdrawn from a strategic city in the region as part of a November peace deal.

Ethiopia’s military in a statement said Amhara forces have started withdrawing from northern Tigray region.

The statement Thursday said the regional forces, which fought alongside the Ethiopian government against Tigrayan rebels, were ordered to leave the town of Shire and its surroundings.

Ethiopia’s defense force deputy army chief, General Abebaw Tadesse, was said to have witnessed the withdrawal.

There was no immediate comment on the announcement from Tigrayan authorities.

The withdrawal could not be independently confirmed, as Ethiopia has for more than a year not allowed journalists to enter Tigray.

If confirmed, the withdrawal would be another sign of progress on a key part of the November peace deal between the federal and Tigray authorities to end the brutal two-year war.

The African Union-brokered agreement includes the withdrawal of foreign forces from Tigray, the restoration of basic services and humanitarian aid, and the disarming of Tigray rebels.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front on Wednesday began handing over heavy weapons to the federal government.

Witnesses say Eritrean troops, who also fought against the TPLF, left two cities in Tigray last month.

It is not clear, though, whether they are withdrawing from the region entirely.