The Ethiopian military has regained control of the historic town of Lalibela from Tigrayan rebels.
The move came amid an announcement by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that it is withdrawing from all areas in the Amhara and Afar regions. The TPLF said it took the decision to clear the way for a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the government.
The conflict has caused a massive humanitarian crisis, with international mediation efforts having so far failed.
It is unclear when the military retook Lalibela, but Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen visited the town, in Amhara, on Sunday.
Lalibela, famous for its rock-hewn churches which date back to the 12th and 13th Centuries, was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. The town has changed hands several times since August.
On Saturday, the government said its troops had retaken several other towns as well, including Weldiya. The TPLF has been withdrawing its fighters to its stronghold of Tigray after being forced to abandon its plan to advance on the capital Addis Ababa.
It said the withdrawals were part of “essential modifications” that it was making, though it did not confirm that it had pulled out of Lalibela and Weldiya.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been to the frontlines to lead the fightback against the TPLF. The group had also been hit by airstrikes.
Thousands of people have been killed, millions have been left homeless and nearly 10 million need food aid.
Fighting broke out over a year ago between government troops and the TPLF following a massive fall-out over political reforms introduced by Mr Abiy when he took office in 2018.
The TPLF had dominated the federal government for more than 25 years, and now controls most of Tigray.