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Ethiopian Olympic medallist and world-renowned distance runner Haile Gebrselassie has announced he is enlisting in the Ethiopian military to fight on the frontline of the war against Tigrayan rebels, the Guardian reports.
Olympic medalist Feyisa Lilesa has also announced he is willing to fight on the frontline, local media have reported.
The announcement comes a day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that he would lead the war from the battlefield.
He made his statement following news that Tigrayan rebels were rapidly advancing towards the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. As a result, a number of countries, including the UK and US, have advised their citizens to leave Ethiopia.
Gebrselassie, who won 10,000m Olympic gold in Atlanta 96 and Sydney 2000, said, 'I am ready to do whatever is required of me, including going to the frontline,' state media quoted him saying.
Local media also quoted Feyisa saying: 'I am ready to draw inspiration from the gallantry of my forefathers and repeat what they did in the Battle of Adwa at the frontline to save my country.'
The war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which was forced out of power in Ethiopia in 2018, launched a rebellion 12 months ago, after disagreeing with Nobel Peace prize winner Abiy’s reforms.
The resulting conflict has seen thousands killed, and triggered a humanitarian crisis after the TPLF took control of Tigray. The rebels are now threatening to march into Addis Ababa, prompting Mr Abiy to call on all Ethiopians to 'prevent, reverse and bury the terrorist TPLF'.
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