Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says that the TPLF rebel group is nearly defeated as the Ethiopian forces make significant military gains.

PM Ahmed had announced last week that he would head to the battlefield after the TPLF claimed control of a town northeast of Addis Ababa.
PM Ahmed had announced last week that he would head to the battlefield after the TPLF claimed control of a town northeast of Addis Ababa. (Reuters Archive)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged Tigrayan rebels to surrender, saying government forces are nearing victory just one week after he vowed to lead military operations at the front.

"The youth of Tigray is perishing like leaves. Knowing it is defeated, it is being led by one who does not have a clear vision or plan," Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said in comments aired on state media on Tuesday.

His comments came after the Ethiopian army took back control of the lowland Afar town of Chifra from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group over the weekend.

Abiy said such gains would be replicated to the west in Amhara region.

"It (TPLF) should surrender today to the Ethiopian National Defence Force, to the special forces, to the militias and to the people."

"The enemy has been defeated. We scored an unthinkable victory with the eastern command in one day ... Now in the west we will repeat this victory," Abiy said.

READ MORE: Ethiopia's army retakes northern Afar town of Chifra from Tigrayan rebels

Ongoing military campaign

The announcement last week that Abiy, a former lieutenant colonel in the military, would head to the battlefield came after the TPLF claimed to control Shewa Robit, a town just 220 km northeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

Fears of a rebel march on the capital have prompted the United States, France, the United Kingdom and other countries to urge their citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible, though Abiy's government says TPLF gains are overstated and the city is secure.

A TPLF spokesperson on Monday dismissed Abiy's deployment as a "circus" involving "farcical war games".

War broke out between the two sides in November 2020, with Abiy sending troops into the northernmost Tigray region to topple the TPLF — a move he said came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

The fighting has killed thousands, displaced more than two million and driven hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates.

Diplomats led by Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union's special envoy for the Horn of Africa, are trying to broker a ceasefire, though there has been little evident progress so far.

READ MORE: Ethiopia PM vows to lead army as Tigray rebels draw close to Addis Ababa

Source: TRTWorld and agencies