Fighters with the Tigray Defense Forces announced on Tuesday the shoot down of an Mi-35 attack helicopter belonging to the Ethiopian government in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
Media outlets affiliated with the TPLF – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – released video and images confirming that a helicopter was shot down, announcing that the aircraft was shot down in the vicinity of Abiy Addi, which is in central Tigray. The shoot down comes after months of little news escaping the region in the midst of a 6 month war which has seen atrocities committed against civilians and wide scale acts of looting.
The shoot down is the second visually confirmed aircraft loss not only in Tigray, but in the Abiy Addi area specifically. In late November, a MiG-23 was shot down and the pilot was captured. The TPLF later claimed that the jet was destroyed by a shoulder-launched missile. This shoot down, so many months later, means that the TPLF still maintains a presence in this area as well as the means to threaten aircraft.
The loss of the helicopter is a painful blow to the Ethiopian Air Force, whose aircraft inventory is limited and may be needed in the near future as tensions over the Nile River heighten. At the same time, it is a major morale boost for the embattled Tigray Defense Forces, who have transitioned largely to guerilla warfare to combat Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.