According to reports by TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda, Eritrean forces reportedly launched a large-scale offensive along Tigray’s northern borders on September 20, and intense fighting was reportedly taking place in several locations within Tigrayan territory, and especially in May Kuhli, Zban Gedena, Adi Awala, Rama, Tserona, and Zalambessa (https://eritreahub.org/breaking-tigray-accuses-eritrea-and-ethiopia-of-launching-a-full-scale-northern-offensive).
The news was also reported by several international media, which described the ongoing fighting as some of the bloodiest since the outbreak of hostilities in November 2020. The Eritrean attack was reportedly accompanied by a joint action by Amhara and Fano militias on the southern front, in support of federal army units.
However, the federal government’s management of the relationship with Amhara and Fano forces appears to remain problematic, as confirmed by the news of the arrest by the police in Bahir Dar of Zemesse Kassie, a prominent Fano militia member long wanted for violence in the region (https://addisstandard.com/news-update-amhara-state-police-detain-zemene-kassie-a-well-known-fano-militia-leader/).
According to TPLF reports, the ongoing offensive would represent an attempt by the federal government and Eritrea to defeat the TDF forces once and for all, aiming at the conquest of Mekelle and the dissolution of the TPLF. For the management of the offensive, the Eritreans would resort to the totality of their forces, also resorting to the massive recruitment of reservists, and would be assisted by Ethiopian federal units from the eastern command, the northwestern command, and three special forces divisions (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/war-breaks-out-along-ethiopia-eritrea-border-source-tells-anadolu-agency/2689934).
The U.S. government’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, commented on September 20 the news of the ongoing offensive in Tigray, stating how the U.S. is closely monitoring Eritrean troops movements along the border with Ethiopia. Such movements were described by Hammer as worrying, and as such condemned by the U.S., which calls on all actors outside the ongoing conflict to respect Ethiopia’s territorial sovereignty and integrity (https://addisstandard.com/news-us-tracking-eritrean-troop-movements-across-the-border-with-ethiopia-special-envoy/).
Mike Hammer also indirectly issued a warning to Eritrea, asking countries that have relations with Asmara to communicate how such interference in Ethiopia must cease. Not yet an open threat, but certainly a very clear message to President Isaias Afwerki.
On September 23, the federal government reportedly launched an armed drone attack on Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, resulting in at least one fatality, according to local sources, while the following day a new drone attack mistakenly struck a WFP vehicle carrying aid from the Shire area to Zana. Instead, it would appear that the town of Shiraro, about 10 kilometers from the western borders between Tigray and Eritrea, could have fallen definitively into the hands of federal and Amhara forces on September 24, as reported by several images circulated on the social media.