By DAPHNE PSALEDAKISDOYINSOLA OLADIPO
(Reuters) – The United States is gravely concerned about reports of hostilities in Ethiopia’s Tigray and condemns any retaliatory attacks against civilians in the region, a State Department spokesman said on Monday.
The spokesman, Ned Price, told reporters the United States continues to call for a negotiated ceasefire to the conflict that has forced nearly 2 million people to flee their homes and forced around 400,000 people into famine conditions.
“We strongly condemn any retaliatory attacks that have been or may be directed against civilians in the Tigray region, whether by organized military or security forces or by rogue elements,” Price said.
“All those who are responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses must be held accountable,” he added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the U.S. review into whether to call events in Tigray crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide was ongoing.
Forces from Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray said on Monday they were pushing south and had recaptured a town from government forces, underscoring their determination to keep fighting until the region’s pre-war borders are restored.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the assertion because communication links to the region are down.
Conflict erupted in Tigray eight months ago between central government forces and the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The government declared victory three weeks later when it took the regional capital, Mekelle, but the TPLF kept fighting.
On June 28, the TPLF recaptured Mekelle and now controls most of Tigray. But some parts in the west and south are also claimed by the neighboring Amhara region, which has sent fighters to the contested areas.