US-Somalia forces ‘take over’ Al-Qaeda hideouts

Al-Qaeda aligned militants of Al-Shabaab, Somalia [World Defence Forum/Facebook]

The United States-backed Special Forces have taken over a strategic base from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab in Southern Somalia, Garowe Online reported today.

A surprise dawn attack was launched by American Special Forces along with the “Danab”, Somalia’s Special Forces unit, triggering a lengthy gun battle. The operation resulted in taking back key villages, including Bulo-Konto, Dangiga Balow, Basro and Garadweyne in the Middle Shebelle region, southern Somalia.

Abdifitah Hajji, a local security official confirmed that the US-backed Special Forces are in “full control” of the villages. “The liberated areas were used to train young recruits by Al-Shabaab to join the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group”, Hajji continued.

No figures were given on civilian casualties involved in the operation.

This comes a couple of days after the Al-Shabaab group executed a suicide bomb attack killing at least three Somali National Army soldiers in Afgoye district, some 30 kilometres north west of the capital Mogadishu.

Last year, the US conducted a controversial raid alongside Somalia’s Special Forces in Baiire, southern Somalia, which killed ten civilians including three children and women.

Somalia has been riddled with domestic fragility and weak governance for over a decade amid an uptick of terrorism across the country. The United Nations last week unanimously passed a resolution to postpone the scheduled withdrawal of African Union troops.

Al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012 attracting a heavy presence of US counter-terrorism operations in Somalia. Unmanned drones, sporadic air strikes and counter-terrorism raids regularly take place in Somalia, often killing civilians in the process. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks US activity worldwide, some 800 have reportedly been killed in Somalia by the US’ use of force and 92 injured.

Al-Shabaab is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic law. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.

The US considers Somalia an “area of active hostilities”, where it has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) a free hand to conduct strikes as it wishes without any transparency or accountability.

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Source: Middle East Monitor

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