The leader of the front, Dabarsiyon Gebremicel, told Reuters by satellite phone late on Friday that they had released 1,000 low-ranking soldiers..
“Over 5,000 (soldiers) are still with us and we will keep the senior officers who will be on trial,” he added“.
He said the soldiers were taken to the southern Tigray border with the Amhara region on Friday, without saying who received them or how their release was negotiated..
Reuters was unable to verify his account from an independent source.
A military spokesman said he could not comment on Saturday. A spokesperson for the Amhara local government said he had no information about the release.
Officials in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office and the government task force on Tigray did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Fighting erupted in Tigray in November when the government accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking military bases across the region, a charge denied by the TPLF. The government declared victory three weeks later when it captured the provincial capital Maqli, but the front continued to fight.
In a dramatic turn, the LTTE regained control of Mekele and most of Tigray at the end of June, after the government withdrew its soldiers and declared a unilateral ceasefire..
But the LTTE vowed to continue fighting until it regained control of the disputed territories in southern and western Tigray that the government’s Amhara allies captured during the fighting..
Abiy said last week that the army would repel any threat from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, effectively abandoning the unilateral truce. Amhara and three other regions said they are mobilizing forces to support the national army in its fight with the front.
Thousands have died in the fighting, nearly two million people have been displaced, and more than five million are dependent on emergency food aid.