The US Ambassador to Somalia, Larry André, conducted a video conference with Hiiraan governor Ali Jeyte and other influential leaders of the region to convey the US’s support for the current anti-Al-Shabaab mission in Hirshabelle.
The renewed offensive is being strengthened by the Ma’awisley, a group of indigenous armed forces who have taken up arms against the extremist organization in Hiiraan. During the conference, the governor appreciated the US’s assistance, which included provisions of weapons, ammunition, and air support.
Larry André also used this opportunity to speak out against the recent spate of violent clashes that had taken place in Hiiraan between two rival militia groups. Regrettably, the fighting had reportedly led to the loss of five militia personnel and ten others in the Afar Irdod district.
The ambassador called out the instigators of the unrest, stating that they were trying to undermine the war against Al-Shabaab.
Governor Ali Jeyte has been spearheading the drive against the group in the Hiiraan zone ever since President Hassan Sheikh announced an “all-out war” to root out the outfit. Thanks to the local militia efforts, several significant towns and hamlets have been liberated from the clutches of Al-Shabaab.
Earlier this year, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud launched the second phase of the military operation to oust the group from the remaining parts of the country.
Al-Shabaab, linked to Al-Qaeda, has been battling against the ruling Somali administration and African Union troops since 2007. Despite having lost some key territories, the group still controls a vast area of central and southern Somalia and has routinely demonstrated its capability to expand its operations beyond the country’s borders.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been leading the charge against al-Shabaab for over a decade, but outcomes have been mixed. The group’s strength remains ambiguous, although certain UN reports have suggested that the organization has about 12,000 fighters.
US support has been instrumental in the Somali National Army’s anti-Al-Shabaab initiative since President Mohamud announced the “all-out war” against the group last year. In January, the US contributed $9 million in weaponry, medical supplies, vehicles, and other supplies for the Somali National Army to execute the mission in Galmudug and Hirshabelle. In March, the country made a second delivery, amounting to 61 tons of weapons and ammunition to be used by the SNA’s Danab Advanced Infantry Brigade.