Among them was Alem Bilatte, 54, a retired army officer who called the Tigray forces of Ethiopia “enemy” and promised to train new recruits or to go to the front himself. “My blood is boiling,” he said when he checked into the capital.
Bekelech Ayalew, 47, a former infantry nurse with an Ethiopian flag, said she was ready to treat soldiers on the front lines. “To sacrifice my blood and die for Ethiopia is a privilege,” she said.
As the recruitment campaign got underway, rebel troops continued to advance into West Tigray, an area that ethnic Amharas have historically claimed as their own and taken over in the early stages of the conflict. Heavy fighting, including artillery fire, has been reported in the Amhara, Oromia and Afar regions, according to an internal United Nations security document checked by the New York Times.
The dynamics of the war also change as the fighting escalates.
That month, the Oromo Liberation Army, which the Ethiopian government has described as a terrorist organization, declared an alliance with the Tigrayan forces, raising the prospect of other factions or regional governments participating in the fighting.
Mustafa Omer, the president of the East Somali region that sent hundreds of soldiers to the war on the government side, said he would never negotiate with the TPLF, which tortured and killed his brother and made other family members disappear in its authoritarian, nearly three Decades of power.
“They have done a lot of damage and are trying to bring back the same political plans if they win,” Omer said in a telephone interview. “You are a danger to the country.”