Siege of Barentu

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Siege of Barentu
Part of the Eritrean War of Independence
Date 1977
Location Barentu, Eritrea
Result Ethiopian victory; ELF/EPLF siege fails
Flag of Eritrea (1952-1961).svg ELF
Flag of the EPLF.svg EPLF
Ethiopia Ethiopia
Soviet Union USSR
Cuba Cuba
Commanders and leaders
ELF Hamid Idris Awate
Flag of the EPLF.svg Isaias Afewerki
Flag of the EPLF.svg Petros Solomon
Flag of the EPLF.svg Sebhat Ephrem
Ethiopia Mengistu Haile Mariam
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Siege of Barentu took place in 1978 in and around the town of Barentu in western Eritrea. It was jointly laid to siege by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) against the forces of Ethiopia. This was a decisive battle during the Eritrean War of Independence and marked the beginning of Soviet involvement in the conflict.

The battle[edit]

The town of Barentu was defended by a large garrison of Ethiopian troops. The garrison had constructed numerous fortifications to improve the defensibility of the town. Furthermore, a local militia had been raised to increase the number of troops. Of most significance in this battle however, was the decision by Soviet military advisers to commit to direct involvement.[1]

During the siege of Barentu the Soviet planners used their air superiority to their advantage by using close air support. This close air support inflicted heavy casualties on the forces of the ELF and EPLF who were conducting their first major joint operation. The failure of this joint operation would have significant consequences later in the war of independence.

The failure of the siege, and the heavy losses incurred by both the ELF and EPLF forces in this battle, as well as the failure at the Battle of Massawa led to the strategic withdrawal.