American officials believe that the reports on Eritrean military forces in the Tigray region of Ethiopia are “credible,” a State Department spokesman Tell Reuters.
Reuters reported for the first time on Tuesday that a U.S. government source and five regional diplomats were told that Eritrean soldiers were helping the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in fighting the opposition Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the region.
However, both Ethiopia and Eritrea Denied coexistence Eritrean forces in the region.
“We are aware of credible reports of Eritrean military involvement in Tigray and we view this as a dangerous development,” the spokesperson told the news service, “We urge the immediate withdrawal of any of these forces.”
On Tuesday, the news agency reported that a senior diplomat from another country reported the presence of thousands of Eritrean troops in the area.
The ministry also cited reports of human rights violations by the Eritrean government, both at home and in Tigray.
We are also aware of reports of human rights violations and abuses in the region. “All parties must respect human rights and international humanitarian law,” a ministry spokesman told Reuters. “We and other international partners continue to demand that the reports be independently investigated and those responsible held accountable.”
The United States considers Ethiopia an ally in the East African region, and Washington has accused Eritrea of committing human rights violations in the past, including imprisoning political opponents and forcing citizens to hold long-term government or military positions.
Abiy was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the peace process with Eritrea, but Eritrean forces crossing the border could risk alarming Western allies and exacerbating the conflict, according to the news service.
Abe and Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki agreed to end the two-decade conflict in 2018, and united against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a rebel group based in the northern region.
Abiy said last week that some troops had retreated across the Eritrean border early in the conflict but denied entry by Eritrean forces into Ethiopia.
Eritrean Foreign Minister Othman Saleh denied the reports, describing them as “propaganda,” according to Reuters.