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Somalia sends troops to frontlines as Al-Shabab steps up attacks

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Federal Government of Somalia says it has dispatched hundreds of combat forces to the frontlines on Sunday for an anticipated offensive to retake areas still controlled by Al-Shabab, Garowe Online reports.

It would mark the first time that FGS deploys such a large number of ground troops to partake in the long-awaited assault against Al-Shabab, which still controls large swathes of territory in the south and central Somalia.

The deployment follows just weeks after deadly suicide attacks in and around Mogadishu, in which the Al-Qaeda-linked group killed almost 100 people, including two Turkish construction engineers working on the Qatar-funded road project.

Somali PM Hassan Ali Khaire bid farewell to the Turkish-trained forces at General Gordon Military Academy in Mogadishu. The country has been at war with Al-Shabab for a decade with the help of 22,000-strong AU troops.

The group was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds across the country. But it remains a formidable threat frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and beyond.

Last week, Somali soldiers have vacated Toratorow in Lower Shabelle region, about 100 kilometers southwest of the capital hours after seizing control of the town, in what could be a boost for Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents.

The Horn of Africa country has been striving to overhaul its security forces, especially the army, which has drawn accusations of corruption from Somalia’s international donors.

In 2017, the United States suspended food and fuel aid for most of Somalia’s armed forces for alleged graft in frustration at the failure of successive Somali governments to build a viable national army.