Ethiopian Head of State Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Marian decorated Cuban troops for their part in the war against Eritrean secessionist guerrillas.
Ethiopian Head of State Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Marian decorated Cuban troops for their part in the war against Eritrean secessionist guerrillas. It came only days after another new offensive.
SYNOPSIS: The Cubans fought alongside Ethiopians in last year's fierce battles against the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) who want independence from Ethiopia. ??? a former Italian colony -- was merged with Ethiopia in September 1952, and ten years later lost its federal status when it was annexed to Ethiopia as a province. Since 1974, Ethiopia has been ruled by a military regime and last year, the Ethiopian Government launched a major offensive to drive out the Eritreans.
Colonel Mengistu's offensive succeeded with the help of the Cubans and he thanked the troops saying " the proletarian internationalist heroes fought alongside the broad masses and the revolutionary army of Socialist Ethiopia to expel and humiliate the invading soldiers". Western estimates put the number of Cuban troops in Ethiopia at roughly 17-thousand, and their main role in the war was to pilot MIG-21 fighter-bomber making daily sweeps against the guerrilla forces.
Eritrea has a thousand kilometre (600 miles) coastline along the Red Sea and is of crucial importance to the balance of power in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea also houses over half of Ethiopia's industry. After a five-months stalemate in the 18-year-old war, the Ethiopian troops last Saturday (14 July) launched another major offensive against the EPLF.