Ethiopia 'using Turkish drones to bomb civilians': report
Photographs obtained by aid workers showed missile fragments from a strike on the town of Dedebit in northwest Ethiopia on 7 January, which resulted in the deaths of 58 civilians sheltering in a school, according to Politico.
The images were studied by Dutch NGO PAX who identified the weapon used as a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone - adding to long suspected allegations that Turkey has been supplying arms to Addis Ababa for its offensive against Tigray rebels.
"The arrival of Iranian, Chinese and now Turkish armed drones seems to have turned the tide in favour of the Ethiopian government, putting the Tigrayans on the defensive and forcing them to the negotiating table," said PAX.
War broke out between Tigray rebels and the Ethiopian government in November 2020. Thousands have been killed in the conflict, many of whom were unarmed civilians, and thousands more have been arrested.
Earlier this month, satellite images "confirmed" the presence of TB2 armed drones at the Harar Meda military airport at Bishoftu, just south of Ethiopia's capital, according to PAX.
The newly obtained photos provide further evidence to support claims that Turkey is capitalising on Ethiopia’s conflict, in direct contradiction to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which regulates the trade in conventional weapons, such as drones, and was signed by Ankara in 2013, representatives from the NGO said.
Baykar, the alleged manufacturer of the drones, is where Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar works as chief technology officer.
Turkey has been rapidly building up its drone export industry, developing the cheap but effective “weapon of choice for many states,” according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
US authorities have already expressed concerns over Turkey’s sale of armed drones to Ethiopia, with two sources familiar with the matter stating "there was mounting evidence" of the trade, according to Reuters.
The New Arab contacted the Turkish embassy in London about the sale of drones to Ethiopia, who did not respond to a request for comment.
Politico asked Turkish government spokespeople in Ankara about the sale of munitions to the East African country but did not receive a response.