With the shining victory at Afabet and the demise of the enemy’s Nadew Iz the EPLF emerged stronger both in morale of its fighters and military equipment. The heavy artillery it captured from the enemy augmented its fighting capacity and ready to launch surprise attacks on the enemy lines with its initiative rather than expecting to repulse enemy attacks.
Disintegrated and in a state of illusion the enemy had been disarrayed on which side and which command post the EPLF would make their next target. The military planners of the EPLF had been also giving more headache to the enemy for to day they appear in the western front and tomorrow in the northern front. The enemy remained dump on the movement of the liberation forces and had been forced to act on speculation.
The leadership of the EPLF, however, had been busy both in military preparations and intelligence gathering on its next big operation that had been thought to be the beginning of the last journey. It took almost two years for the EPLF leadership and military commanders to plan the big offensive Operation Fenkil.
Exactly on 10 February 1990 the EPLF forces disregarding the enemy’s human and material superiority launched a surprise attacks on the enemy forces station in and around Massawa. The enemy had been stationed there for several years not only to repulse the EPLF attacks but also to secure its supply route from Massawa to Asmara. As a result the enemy had been equipped with more than 150 tanks along with several cannons with different mms, missiles and anti-tank rockets, and above all with obvious aerial superiority. But that did not deter the liberation forces from executing the operation.
The enemy forces that had lost morale and fighting spirit from the previous EPLF offensives especially that of Nadew Iz, could not resist this meticulously planned offensive. Within few days the enemy had been incapacitated and crushed and its entire military hardware feel in the hands of the freedom fighters, most of its soldiers either dead or taken prisoners.
For the Derge regime the loss of Massawa had been a heavy blow and was compelled to admit by its own leader that they were “caught by the throat”. Moreover, the international community and especially the US came foreword to save the Derge regime lobbying for peace dialogue that they have been ignoring for so long in history when they were asked by diplomatic means to respect the sovereignty and freedom of the Eritrean people. The Derge regime, in its last attempt to stop the wave of attacks on the part of the EPLF forces, had been compelled to enemas its forces to defend Asmara, the capital city.
For both the Eritrean people and the enemy it has been obvious that the capture of Massawa had been the end of colonialism in Eritrea. And that was very true for the enemy could not resist, even for days, the wave of attacks by the EPLF forces from the south towards Asmara. And on May 24, 1991 Asmara had been relieved from occupation and with that the whole country. Eritrea stood as a nation, independent and registering its name in the annals of history.
Months after President Isaias Afwerki, then General Secretary of the EPLF, conducted an interview with the Voice of the Broad Masses Eritrea and its people had been free from the yokes of colonialism, suppression, indiscriminate killings and started to enjoy freedom it won with the life and blood of its sons and daughters.