December 10, 2022

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Turkish drone operators in Ethiopia

While Ethiopia acquired Turkish combat drones, being used in the ongoing Ethiopia-Tigray conflict, speculations were going around about the presence of Turkish drone operators in Ethiopia. In a news story, Reuters has hinted at the possible presence of Turkish drone operators on the ground in Ethiopia. Reuters contacted some Ethiopian security officials and military experts in Ethiopia, who, on conditions of anonymity, said that they had seen Turkish drone operators in Ethiopia.

Turkey is known for sending drone operators along with its drones. In Libya and Nagorno Karababkh war, reportedly Turkish drone operators were on the ground. While Ethiopian government forces are said to be using Turkish tb-2 combat drones, it seems that there could be presence of Turkish drone operators too in Ethiopia.

Turkish drones have changed the battlefield picture in Ethiopia. Tigray forces were advancing towards Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa a month ago. But after the use of Turkish and Chinese drones, Tigray forces suffered losses in terms of military equipment and manpower and three days ago, Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael announced to withdraw all his forces from Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia.

Meanwhile US envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffery Feltman, has taken up the issue of drone sales with Turkish authorities. Feltman visited Turkey last week. In his visit he shared US concerns about the use of Turkish drones by Ethiopian government against civilians.

US envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffery Feltman, with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister

While US is trying to put pressure upon Turkey to halt Turkish arms deliveries to Ethiopia, it seems damage has already been done on the ground in Ethiopia where Tigray forces have been pushed back from all their territorial gains due to use of these Turkish combat drones.