Ethiopia’s military says Tigrayan forces have started handing over heavy weapons as part of the peace deal to end the two-year civil war.
Ethiopia’s federal defense force in a statement Wednesday confirmed Tigray forces have started handing over heavy weapons— the latest progress in line with a November peace deal.
The statement said the “first round” of weapons were transported on Tuesday in Agula camp, 36 kilometers from Tigray’s capital, Mekelle.
Ethiopian Army Commander Lieutenant Colonel Aleme Tadele said the arms transfer included tanks, rockets, and mortars.
The statement said observers from the African Union and various countries’ militaries were present to verify the transfer from the Tigray People’s Liberation Army.
The confirmation came after TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda early Wednesday tweeted news of the handover.
He said they “hope and expect this will go a long way in expediting the full implementation of the agreement.”
The AU-brokered peace deal, signed in South Africa, saw the two sides agree the TPLF would disarm in return for restoration of aid and services to Tigray and the withdrawal of foreign forces.
The deal came after two years of devastating war that saw Tigray largely cut off from the rest of the world, hundreds of thousands of people killed, and millions displaced.
The two sides have met a few times in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to discuss implementing the deal.
Since December, Ethiopia has allowed humanitarian aid to enter Tigray and restored power, water, banking, and telecommunications to the region.
Witnesses say in late December Eritrean troops who fought on the side of federal forces withdrew from two cities in Tigray.
However, the TPLF accuses Eritrean troops of committing atrocities during the conflict and says they are still active in some areas of Tigray.
Rights groups say all sides in the conflict are guilty of rapes, torture, and extra-judicial killings that could amount to war crimes, and cite evidence of ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans.
While the rapid progress on implementing the peace deal has been welcomed internationally, it’s not yet clear what action, if any, will be taken to see justice for the victims.