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Somalia's Jubaland steps up in fight against Al-Shabaab

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

KISMAYO, Somalia - Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe early this week promised to steer the fight against Al-Shabaab militants, arguing that the group could be defeated during the pass out of Darwish regional forces in Kismayo, in what could mark the beginning of yet another offensive against the militants.

Madobe, who presided over the pass out of 620 soldiers joining the paramilitary unit, said the regional forces will play a major role in the fight against Al-Shabaab, adding that the international community should empower the troops for the sake of restoring stability in Somalia. The country has been in shambles for three decades.

The regional leader, who is currently in Mogadishu for talks with the federal government, asked the new generation of Darwish forces to fight for peace in Somalia, adding that the Al-Shabaab militants have started losing grip in key strongholds following increased military activities across the country.

For Somalia to survive, he noted, security forces should make "sacrifices" at whatever cost to bring peace in the country. He hailed graduates for their "right focus and mentality" in serving the region's security team, which operates in one of the most dangerous zones in Somalia.

"I wish to congratulate you for your graduation," said the Jubaland leader, who was accompanied by a host of local leaders. "We must fight hard and defend Somalia from these terrorists who kill innocent civilians all the time. Their time is up and we must plan to defend our territory."

"These militants can be defeated and we just need a little more support to beat them squarely. We are making some progress and this should not be underestimated. We are happy that our security forces are getting trained to face these enemies of progress," added the Jubaland leader.

Speaking during the occasion in Kismayo, Madobe said the forces will be deployed within the state to help in liberating areas still under the control of the militant group Al-Shabaab. The Middle and Lower Jubba regions are still hotbeds for the terror group.

The Jubaland leader is not new in the fight against Al-Shabaab. In 2012, he was part of the commandos from the Ras Kamboni Brigade who helped Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] capture a host of towns in southern Somalia, among them the commercial city of Kismayo, which is Jubaland's administrative capital.

His sentiments come a few hours after the Department of Defense, Inspector General team in Washington said the US military is making "limited progress" in the fight against Al-Shabaab. According to the department, the US has carried out 46 airstrikes in Somalia this year, killing over 60 militants.

However, the airstrikes in the second quarter of 2020 have been limited, with the US Africa Command reporting only 7 airstrikes. To date, the US Africa Command has a total of 500 servicemen in Somalia who are mainly involved in training and equipping the SNA troops besides assisting in aerial surveillance.

Recently, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for equipping of Darwish forces and their subsequent deployment to the troubled Lower Shebelle region which has witnessed high volatile Al-Shabaab activities in recent months.

"I call upon the Federal Government and the state authorities to ensure that federal Darwish units and South-West police personnel are appropriately equipped and deployed to Shabelle Hoose to support stabilization efforts following successful operations," he said. "I urge the Somali authorities to complete the transfer of high-risk cases from military to civilian courts as a matter of priority."

The Al-Qaeda-linked group controls the whole Middle Jubba region in southern Somalia, where the U.S. military frequently carried out drone strikes targeting senior commanders in their hideouts.