Fighter jets sighted in Mogadishu skies as U.S. to re-deploy troops to Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Residents of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, have reportedly sighted fighter jets within the suburbs of the city, in what comes just hours after US President Joe Biden authorized the redeployment of Special Forces to the Horn of Africa nation.
Just hours after Somalia elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the next president, Pentagon is said to have authorized the redeployment of close to 500 soldiers who will help the local security forces to tackle Al-Shabaab militants within the country.
Last year, Donald Trump, the former US president, signed an Executive Order which saw all the 700 US troops who had been training Danab Special Forces besides helping in aerial combats, leave the country even in the middle of surging Al-Shabaab attacks.
According to eyewitnesses in Mogadishu, two fighter jets were sighted cruising at low altitudes and shooting flares, a rare and mysterious night flying over the city. It was not immediately clear whether the jets were attached to the US Africa Command.
A short clip capturing one of the fighter jets shooting a decoy flare as a preemptive measure to counter incoming RPGs or missiles. Some residents across the northern neighborhood of the city heard the loud sound of the supersonic engine.
The US has been a major security partner of the Horn of Africa nation. On Wednesday, Outgoing PM Mohamed Hussein Roble met African Union Transition Mission [ATMIS] team amid fears that Burundian forces in Middle Shabelle could vacate three more Forward Operating Bases to minimize potential Al-Shabab attack.
BNDF vacated Gololey base earlier on Saturday. Troops from Gololey were deployed in other bases to reinforce just after the Al-Shabaab militants raided one of the bases in El-Baraf, leaving at least 30 Burundian soldiers dead according to military reports.
According to the VOA, the decision by the US to deploy troops to Somalia, however, became increasingly unpopular with U.S. military officials, who complained of having to “commute” to work, and with some Somali officials, who saw al-Shabaab's forces grow in the absence of a persistent U.S. presence.
“This was a wrong decision taken. The withdrawal was a hasty decision,” a senior adviser to Mohamud told VOA, ahead of the official announcement on Tuesday.
“It disrupted counterterrorism operations,” said the Somali adviser, who asked not to be named because his position in the administration has not yet been made public. “To reinstate and start with the new president is the right decision, and it came at the right time.”
U.S. officials, explaining the decision to deploy fewer than 500 troops to Somalia as part of what they describe as a persistent presence, agreed that the cost of waiting any longer would be high.
Al-Shabab “has unfortunately only grown stronger” since the December 2020 decision to no longer maintains an ongoing U.S. military presence in Somalia, a White House official said Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the new authorization.
Al-Shabab “has increased the tempo of its attacks, including against U.S. personnel," the official said. “We're concerned about the potential for al-Shabab's upward battlefield and financial trajectory to generate more space for the group to plan and ultimately to execute external attacks.”