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Tigray disaster: How the Ethiopian army and TPLF clashed over an airport

Ethiopian media reporting the attack on Aksum airport
Ethiopian media reporting the assault on Aksum airport

A strategically important airport in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray place has develop into a key battleground between the opposing forces in the current battle.

seasoned-govt debts say the Ethiopian armed forces controls Aksum airport – however this doesn’t seem to have prevented the Tigray particular forces mounting an assault and disabling the runway in the past few days.

Yet, with communications from the place largely reduce, the situation was doubtful.

now we have taken a look at one of the vital pictures put out in regards to the assault, along side satellite tv for pc photographs of the airport, and tried to piece together a timeline of activities.

The combat for Aksum airport

Ethiopian forces captured the airport on 11 November, in line with pro-government social-media debts.

unless that factor, it had been in the arms of the Tigray regional forces (TPLF).

but handle of the airport and the surrounding area become clearly no longer settled on that date.

On Thursday, 19 November, the Tigray chief, Debretsion Gebremichael, instructed the Reuters news agency Aksum city changed into nonetheless in their hands – but it is unclear if that protected the airport.

“Aksum is with us – however there’s an army despatched to handle Aksum – but there is a battle,” Mr Debretsion noted.

Map of Tigray region
Map of Tigray area

On Friday, 20 November, the government announced it had captured Aksum city however the TPLF had broken infrastructure in the enviornment.

And on Sunday, 22 November, state media published a video and images of bricks and rubble on the runway, as well as what appeared to be trenches dug into the floor, saying the TPLF had attacked “ploughed and destroyed the airport, which has contributed a lot to the financial system and the people of Aksum”.

The Ethiopian government's "fact-check" account also published a video of the damage
The Ethiopian executive’s “fact-investigate” account additionally posted a video of the harm

To investigate even if these pictures are exact, we have looked at satellite tv for pc imagery, provided by way of Planet Labs, from earlier than and after the assault.

On Thursday, 19 November, the runway seemed to be free from rubble or damage.

but the photograph captured on Monday, 23 November, shows lines across the airport, which corroborate the old day’s state-media reviews that trenches had been dug across the runway to avoid planes touchdown.

other investigations have led to similar findings.

The Tigray executive is yet to touch upon what came about on the airport.

Mr Debretsion has denied the TPLF destroyed the airport however established boundaries had been put in region to cease the Ethiopian army from advancing.

misleading photographs amid an assistance blackout

With the information superhighway and most cell communications down within the Tigray place, getting an accurate picture of movements is challenging.

Ethiopia’s state-controlled media has near-monopoly entry to the territory and social media has been plagued by misleading photos.

After it turned into reported the Ethiopian army had received handle of the airport, professional-government debts shared photographs from historical stories unrelated to the conflict, purporting to reveal Ethiopian militia personnel on the airport.

Old photos of an Ethiopian pilot - unrelated to the current conflict
historic pictures of an Ethiopian pilot – unrelated to the present battle

in a similar fashion, after Ethiopian media pronounced the TPLF had broken the airport, social-media clients begun sharing pictures of the near-complete destruction of a terminal building.

An image from a bombed Libyan airport from 2014 has been wrongly attributed to the attack in northern Ethiopia
an image from a bombed Libyan airport from 2014 has been wrongly attributed to the assault in northern Ethiopia

however the photo being shared turned into definitely from an attack at a Libyan airport in 2014.

Human Rights Watch has known as for the Ethiopian government to repair communications in the location.

Why Aksum airport is important

Ethiopia is an enormous country and conserving airports operating for components and personnel is critical for the national military.

The Aksum vicinity is also critical for historical causes.

Balsillie faculty of overseas Affairs director Prof Ann Fitz-Gerald talked about: “it’s vastly important as a result of other northern airports at Bahir Dar and Gondar have additionally been damaged and airport security is critical for mobilising troops and maintaining physical strains of conversation open.”

“If regional safety forces had been not going to have the airport itself, its tactic would be to disrupt the entry to the airport.

“it could’ve been a last ditch tactic and possibly as they grew to be threatened.”

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