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US military pay tributes to Somalia troops after capturing senior Al-Shabaab leader

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The US military has hailed Somali National Army [SNA] after the capture of a senior Al-Shabaab operative, adding that the incident "demonstrates" progress in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

On Monday, troops drawn from 1st Advanced Infantry Brigade of Danab forces raided Wanlaweyn town in Lower Shebelle, where they managed to get hold of Ibrahim Mohamed Rooble, an Al-Shabaab operative.

This was the first raid conducted without the assistance of US Africa Command troops, who usually give aerial surveillance during sophisticated operations by SNA troops.

And in a tweet, AFRICOM hailed the Somali National Army [SNA] following the operation, saying "this successful operation, led by our Somali partners, demonstrates progress".

For a couple of years, AFRICOM has been training and equipping Special Forces from SNA, and the team has participated in numerous operations that had lead to seizure of various Al-Shabaab-held towns.

More recently, the SNA commandos with the aid of Americans and AMISOM, managed to liberate the agriculture-rich town of Janaale from the militants, leaving over 15 Al-Shabaab members dead, officials said.

SNA troops launched a "massive operation" which resulted in the capture of a "high profile" Al-Shabaab fighter, who had been "coordinating" attacks against AMISOM and SNA forces in the region, officials said in reference Rooble.

Mr. Rooble, would later be identified as a tax collector for Al-Shabaab within Lower Shebelle, who also serves as Amniyat, a term given to the intelligence wing of the Al-Qaida linked group.

Unlike in previous outings, the troops raided the town at night, in an operation which is yet another "huge success" among the SNA soldiers, who are set to assume security responsibilities next year upon AMISOM's exit.

"Danab entered Wanlaweyn at night using cover to close on the target. This ensured surprise and prevented the escape of the terrorist," Somalia's information department said in a statement, Tuesday.

"Conducting operations at night is one of the toughest jobs for the military. The successful operation manifests the capability of the Danab forces to conduct complex operations."

Last week, AFRICOM hinted at the possibility of overstaying in Somalia until 2027, adding that the US military is keen to establish a functional army with a battalion fully constituting Danab commandos.

So far, AFRICOM has conducted 31 airstrikes in Somalia since January, the highest ever within the same period in previous years. In 2019, the command, with aid of FGS, launched only 63 airstrikes, officials said.

A report by the UN confirmed that most militants had started to run away from villages in southern and central Somalia, where they have dominated in recent years due to frequent airstrikes.

Last month, the US military managed to kill Bashir Qorgab, one of most wanted Al-Shabaab fighter, in an airstrike at Saakow town, Middle Juba. He's linked to Jan. 5 attacks at US Naval Base in Lamu, Kenya which left three Americans dead.

While there are plans by Pentagon to scale down its forces in Africa, AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend insisted that the plan "won't affect" Somalia, which has 500 US army personnel.

SNA troops have been establishing administrations in liberated towns and are set to fully resume responsibilities once AMISOM leaves in 2021, after years of helping to restore normalcy in Somalia.


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