Somalia: Al Shabaab last ditch efforts in Gedo region 17 Jul 17, 2012 - 10:17:24 AM
BARDHERE, Somalia Jul 17 2012 (Garowe Online) - Al Shabaab insurgents have been losing ground in much of south central and southern Somalia, but have concentrated in maintaining the strategic region of Gedo, Garowe Online reports.
After Ethiopian and Somali troops captured central regions in Somalia, attacks or armed resistance by Al Shabaab who formerly controlled the region have been minimal.
Nevertheless Al Shabaab have directed an extensive amount of defense in Gedo Region.
On Tuesday, the district of Bardheere became a battlefield as Somali forces battled with Al Shabaab insurgents.
Local sources on the ground said that both sides were using mortars and heavy artillery with the fighting continuing for many hours.
It is still unclear how many casualties were sustained by allied forces during the clash on Tuesday.
The clashes resulted when TFG forces mounted an attack on the district in hopes to capture Bardheere, which after Tuesday's clashes looks to be still in the hands of Al Shabaab.
The August deadline for the transitional government has propelled the efforts of allied forces to capture the region of Gedo but has proved a taxing operation for the forces.
A TFG military official stationed in Gedo region who spoke to Garowe Online under anonymity, said that the region of Gedo which large rural and urban parts still remain in the hands of Al Shabaab has been an area of great importance to the group because of its terrain.
"The large forests in the region and the supply of water through the Dawa and Jubba rivers make the region an ideal place for guerrilla warfare," said the military official.
Al Shabaab's tough stand in Gedo region caught allied forces' attention who all are engaged in the region; TFG backed Ahlu Sunnah are also engaged in Gedo region.
Kenya's fighter jets have tried to diminish Al Shabaab's bases repeatedly bombing Al Shabaab controlled districts in Gedo region since there engagement in Somalia last October.
But despite both ground and air onslaughts by allied forces, Al Shabaab still remain in full control of two major districts Bardhere and Burdubo.