Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Sunday evening the country's troops were forced into war against Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).
"Our defense forces were forced to enter into war to protect the sovereignty of the nation and to thwart the attacks from extremists of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and anti-Ethiopian forces," Meles said in a televised speech just hours after the military confirmed counterattacks against Somalia's UIC.
"The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, Puntland forces and other Somali armed forces are fighting alongside Ethiopian troops," he said.
"Our defense forces will leave Somalia as soon as they end their mission," he said.
"We are not trying to set up a government for Somalia, nor do we have an intention to meddle in Somalian internal affairs," said Meles.
"We want to end this war urgently and we hope that Ethiopian people stand by the defense forces," said the Ethiopian prime minister.
On Sunday, Ethiopian troops said they have launched a counterattack against Somalia's UIC.
"After a long patience, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces on Sunday started taking measures to foil the attack launched against Ethiopia by fundamentalist forces gathered in Somalia," said a statement from the military.
"The offensive was launched on terrorist positions at Bur Hakaba, Beledweyne, Bandiradleey and Dinsoor localities," the statement said.
Ethiopia had previously denied dispatching any soldiers across the border, saying it had only a few hundred military trainers in Baidoa, the only town TFG controls.
Fighting resumed in Somalia Thursday between fighters loyal to the TFG and the UIC despite a truce secured by an EU envoy.