Ethiopia on Friday rejected as “lies” claims of withdrawal by Tigrayan rebels from a region neighbouring war-wracked Tigray and accused them of trying to “impede” the delivery of aid. The conflict between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) erupted in November 2020. The TPLF on Tuesday said it withdrew from Afar region under rebel occupation for nine months, fulfilling a key demand set by the government when it declared a humanitarian truce last month. The TPLF is “trying to mislead the international community by pretending to have withdrawn from (the entirety) of Afar region”, Legesse Tulu, Ethiopian government spokesman, told a press conference. “Even though it has withdrawn from some border areas of Amhara and Afar regions, it has seized (other) geographically key areas, while it has continued to occupy other areas,” Tulu said. Both sides’ claims could not be independently verified. “The international media echoed these lies without cross-checking facts,” said Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman, Dina Mufti, in a separate press conference, referring to the rebels’ claims of total withdrawal from Afar. “The truth is that the TPLF forces have only withdrawn from a few areas of Eribti, Berehale, and Abala town while maintaining control of the surrounding areas of Abala affecting the aid corridor” through which aid flows to Tigray, as well as other areas in Afar and Amhara, he said.