Height of Treason

A day after Ethiopia declared war on Tigray on 4th Nov 2020, some divisions of the Ethiopian military, which had been stationed in Tigray, crossed the border to Eritrea and transferred military equipment to the Eritrean Defense Force in preparation for Eritrea-led invasion of Tigray.

Video credit: Mirjam van Reisen (Video geolocated in North East of Mukuti on the way to Senbel in Eritrea)

“This is original video material checked on provenance in multiple ways showing mechanized weapons transfer between #ENDF Northern Command and #Eritrea Defence Forces on 5 Nov 2020 in Mukuti #Eritrea. Had it for a while. Further investigation of this event is required. This is the second part of the video of handover of military equipment by #ENDF to #EDF on 5 Nov 2020 in Mukuti, #Eritrea – film shot at 7:08 am” Prof. Mirjam van Reisen

The following note was taken from a tweet by Matt Williams (freelancer, open source investigator)

This is a second video of the same shot of #Eritrea and #Ethiopia‘s forces. (shared by @mvreisen). Several Twitter accounts have alleged a ‘handover’ of weapons did not occur or that video was ‘fake’. As part of my #OSINT @bellingcat homework, I’ve set out to show why it isn’t.

This is the second video was also shared by @mvreisen. The footage was captured at 07:08am on 5th November in #Eritrea, only days after fighting broke out in the #Tigray region. The region, and #Ethiopia, have spiralled into a brutal civil war.

Eritrean forces have taken part in the conflict, and have been accused of committing war crimes in #Tigray. First, the location. Where is it? According to the tweet shared by @mvreisen, the video is located in Mukuti, #Eritrea.

According to @Wikipedia, Mukuti is located in Gash-Barka, #Eritrea. Another #OSNIT member has said that it is on its way to Sembel in #Eritrea. Gash-Barka (left) borders #Ethiopia‘s #Tigray region (right) which is part of #Ethiopia and a key battleground in the civil war.

Sembel is located here. It is a border town on the #Ethiopia#Eritrea border between Gash-Barka and #Tigray. It is a dead straight border that cuts into Ethiopia (shaped like the end of a box cutter).

A military offensive needs a main road, and if the Eritrean army launches an attack into #Tigray, it is likely they will use the main road to transport the APCs and tanks seen. The building looks like a stop-off point for a lot of people by a roadside.

Follow the road. No major buildings at first, you cross a river and wind through some hills. You come to a junction. Always look left and right at the junction.

Hang on. Huts mainly dominate the landscape, with the exception of these three long buildings when you turn right.

Three trees in front of the camera and a fourth to the left of the person the video footage doing their 360. We have a very similar location and some coordinates to test.

.@Latlong provides the coordinates on map accurately. Punch the coordinates into @PeakVisor_app. 14.545034 37.637903 #Eritrea#Ethiopia You land in this location (see right), with a view of a jumble of hills in the distance.

Zooming in, the hills in the background correlate with the hills in the video here. #Eritrea #Tigray #Ethiopia

In the second video. A hill is much closer to the videographer with a slight cut into the slope behind it. On @googleearth this is here and on @PeakVisor_app here.

Gundi in Ertirea at 4508ft is 34.5 miles away from the location of the video. At one point they are looking north-east into #Ethiopia and #Eritrea lies further north.

We’ve established we’re in the right location in #Eritrea. Second, when was the film taken? According to the video, it has been shot at 07:08 am in Eritrea, an hour or so drive to the west of #Ethiopia‘s border town, Gomahalo.

The shadows of the soldiers. Using @suncalc_net and the coordinates. The time shows it is just past 07:08 or very close to 07:00, and the sunshine is coming from that direction (casting the specific shadow). #Eritrea and #Ethiopia‘s soldiers are preparing for war in the morning.

But is it on November 5th, 2020? Using @sentinel_hub you can notice that there was increased activity in the area (tank, APC and jeep tracks) close to the building between November 2nd and November 7th in the location. It’s slightly darker on November 7th.

Using World Imagery Wayback and creating a GIF, you can also notice slight changes in how the dirt shifts (and tracks cutting in) with all the heavy vehicles, tanks, APCs and jeeps in the video footage between January 1st, 2020 and November 18th, 2020 #Eritrea #Ethiopia #Tigray

Are the soldiers in the video Eritrean and Ethiopian? The man recording the video was speaking Tigrigna while soldiers caught in the footage are speaking Tigrigna, a common language in #Eritrea.

Men dressed in Ethiopian military uniform were also seen in the video speaking Amharic which is the official working language of #Ethiopia.

The APCs seen in the video footage are Chinese Type 85/89 AFV commonly used by #Ethiopia‘s army. Note the Ethiopian flag (left: photo released by the Ethiopian News Agency in November 2020) https://t.co/AWONiBb9AK

The tanks with rounded domes to the right in the 360 footage (left) are Soviet T-55A/AM2s, the main battle tank of the Eritrean army. There are also T-72 tanks used by the Ethiopian army in the shot.

Why does all this matter? Since the war started Eritrean troops, sometimes accompanied by those of the Ethiopian government and its militias have committed widespread atrocities, and have left 400,000 on the brink of #famine in #Tigray

The extent of #Eritrea‘s involvement in Ethiopia’s brutal civil war was exposed after an Ethiopian general was caught on camera admitting soldiers from the secretive gulag-state had been conscripted to fight in his country

The Eritreans have been accused of war crimes, including massacres of civilians and mass rape most notoriously at #Axum between November 28th and November 29th where @amnesty documented the slaughter of hundreds of civilians #Tigray

Understanding the preparations by #Eritrea‘s army and how it coordinated with #Ethiopia‘s military and militias will be vital to understanding how human rights abuses occurred, and better understanding the motives of Eritrea’s shadow war in the region