Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa ready to join Tigray war

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Ethiopia has a legend in the form of Haile Gebrselassie.

The two Olympic heroes from Ethiopia say they are ready to go to the front line.

The Prime Minister said he would go to the front to lead the war.

The Tigrayan rebels say they are moving towards the capital.

The civil war in Ethiopia has prompted Germany and France to advise their citizens to leave.

Jeffrey Feltman, the US envoy to the region, warned on Tuesday that diplomatic progress towards ending the conflict was being jeopardized by alarming developments on the ground.

The rebels said they had taken control of Shewa Robit, a town about 200 km north-eastern of Ethiopia. There is no confirmation of the claim.

Communication Minister Legese Tulu said the military has had many successes since Mr Abiy's decision to lead the battle.

The spokesman said that with Mr Abiy gone to direct the war effort, his deputy, Demeke Mekonnen Hasse, had taken charge of routine government business.

Hundreds of new army recruits attended a ceremony in Ethiopia on Wednesday after Mr. Abiy's announcement, which has boosted recruitment for the army.

"I am ready to do whatever is required of me, including going to the front line," was quoted by state television.

The war effort in Ethiopia was seen as an attempt to rally public support by the legend of Gebrselassie.

He won two Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship victories, and set 27 world records during his 25-year career as an athlete. He retired from competitive running.

According to the Fana Broadcasting Corporation website, Feyisa said that he was ready to go to the front line to save his country, and that he was inspired by the bravery of his forefathers.

The athlete won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics.

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At Rio 2016 he took a silver medal in the marathon.

He became famous for holding up his crossed wrists as a way to draw attention to the situation in Ethiopia.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front was the main party in the government. The TPLF lost control of the country it had held for 27 years after Mr. Abiy became prime minister.

It retreated to Tigray after launching a rebellion last November over the reforms of Mr. Abiy.

The war has left thousands dead, forced millions from their homes, and left hundreds of thousands of people in famine-like conditions.

The African Union is leading efforts to find a negotiated end to the fighting.

The TPLF are on their way to Ethiopia.

The prospect of some of Ethiopia's most venerated sporting figures heading to the front lines to fight captures something profound and powerful.

At a time of intense crisis, many people in Ethiopia are showing their support for their flag and prime minister, and are eager to play their part in galvanising public support for a military campaign that has suffered setbacks in recent months.

The military threat posed by the TPLF and their allies is seen by many people as a threat to Ethiopia.

The dislike of the TPLF stems from its decades as an authoritarian national government. There is more than that.

The prime minister has tried to portray his country as a victim of Tigrayan aggression and a part of an international conspiracy to weaken it and challenge Western interests on the continent.

Western media are portrayed as enthusiastic backers of that conspiracy theory, one which appears to have gained widespread credibility in a country struggling to explain how the rebel group could have made such startling headway.

There is more on the Tigray crisis.

The person is Abiy Ahmed.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front is a group.
There is a crisis in Tigray.