In November, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPF) rebels were advancing towards Addis Ababa, capturing several key towns and coming within 220km of the capital. Their offensive sparked an exodus of foreign nationals and diplomats from the city, who feared its potential fall.
But after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed went to the frontline to direct troops fighting the TPLF and its ally, the Oromo Liberation Front, federal forces inflicted a string of defeats on the rebels, reversing one month of rebel gains towards Addis Ababa in little over a week.
The first major territory the government retook was the town of Chifra in the Afar region. On Wednesday 1 December it announced the recapture of Shewa Robit on the main road to Addis Ababa, and a day later the military and allied militia retook Lalibela, an historic town famous for its 13th rock-hewn churches. on Monday evening (6 December), the government claimed it had recaptured the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, whose fall one month ago had prompted widespread alarm.
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