no chance for peace
An Ethiopian general said his country plans to send troops into the Tigrayan regional capital of Mekelle to "eliminate" opposition forces in the rebel province, Reuters reports.
"Tigray is part of Ethiopia, and no force will stop us from entering. We will enter, and we will eliminate the enemy. There shouldn't be any confusion about this," Ethiopian Defense Forces deputy army chief Gen. Abebaw Tadesse said in an interview with state media Friday.
"The people of Ethiopia shouldn't think that it is over. It is not over," he continued. "The main thing here is we have stopped because we have to prepare ourselves. This enemy is still there, and it has to be absolutely eliminated. We will not negotiate with them."
This marks a significant departure from conciliatory gestures Ethiopia made earlier this month. On Jan. 7, the Ethiopian government announced it had released several opposition leaders from prison in an attempt to open dialogue. The freed prisoners included several leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) as well as members of other ethnic and regional anti-government militias.
The TPLF became the ruling party of Ethiopia after helping topple the country's Marxist dictatorship in 1991 and remained in power until 2018. Today, the TPLF is designated a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.
Fighting between the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments on one side and, on the other, the Tigray Defense Forces and a patchwork of smaller rebel groups, erupted in November after Tigrayan forces attacked an Ethiopian military headquarters. Both sides have been accused of war crimes.
According to PBS, Ethiopia's ongoing blockade of Tigray has hindered the flow of food aid, leaving more than 50,000 children malnourished per United Nations estimates.