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‘Final push’ against Al-Shabaab coming soon, Somali infantry commander says

Storyline:National News, Security

GOOBJOOG NEWS|JUBALAND: Somali National Army infantry commander General Mohamed Tahleil Bihi has said the military is soon launching a decisive phase of the offensive against Al-Shabaab noting that the ‘end’ was near for the militant group.

Gen. Bihi said the second phase of the campaign which heads south notably South West and Jubaland states will start in the coming weeks and Al-Shabaab will be cleared in all areas it currently occupies.

“In the coming weeks, we intend to clear all of them from the land they are in, and we have said many times that we will clear them, and it happened as it happened and we cleared them,” the army General said.

He noted that his forces were strong and capable of annihilating Al-Shabaab. The remarks come amid the expected deployment of thousands of soldiers from Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti who will operate outside the ATMIS framework. This follows an agreement between president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Presidents of the three countries during the January 23 Front-Line States Summit in Mogadishu.

Sources have indicated as many as 20,000 soldiers from these three countries will be coming into the country soon. So far, the SNA in collaboration with the Ma’awisley clan militia have liberated over 75 locations in Middle Shabell, Hiiraan, Mudug and Galgadud regions according to government records.

SNA chief of Staff Gen. Yusuf Odowaa visited Kenya Defence Forces headquarters, training schools and infantry headquarters last week in a build-up to the troops deployment.

Jubaland has also begun the operation on a low scale. The ‘Southern Battle’ will perhaps be the real test for the army. Al-Shabaab controls large swathes of these two states in the regions of Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle (South West) and Lower and Middle Juba regions of Jubaland.