US-trained Somalia's Danab forces kill dozens of Al-Shabaab militants
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Al-Qaida associates in Somalia Al-Shabaab on Tuesday suffered a major setback in its attempts to disorganize the federal government, Garowe Online reports.
Special Forces commonly called Danaab on Wednesday confirmed the latest onslaught against the militants in Lower Shebelle, a region that has often witnessed fierce battles.
Tuesday's battle, Danab said, left at least 20 militants dead. It was the first major attack on Al-Shabaab launched by the Somalia army.
Ismail Abdi Malik, commander of the 16th Unit of Somali Special Forces, told journalists that "our forces have taken control of many villages during the operation, such as Mordinle, Bula Maskin, Faqayle, Bula Bashir and we inflicted heavy casualties on the militants, killing 20 of them during the offensive."
He added that the army will maintain operations until it drives the militants out of the whole region. Residents said there was an intense confrontation between the army and the militants.
Danab elite forces are trained by the United States and are often deployed during sophisticated missions targeting militants across the country.
In October, the Special Forces thwarted an Al-Shabaab attack at the US army base in Ballidogle, killing at least 11 militants who had raided the camp.
Although greatly neutralized, Al-Shabaab militants often carry out perilous attacks targeting the army. On Saturday, the group unleashed in Mogadishu killing over 85 people.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo took a swipe at the group, insisting that "Al-Shabab don't build, they destroy".
"They don't build schools, they don't build health centers, they don't feed children. They are contracted on preventing progress and killing the people and children of Somalia," he added.
Before Tuesday's attack, US forces with the aid of Danab also carried three airstrikes in Lower Shebelle which reportedly killed at least four militants.
Al-Shabaab has waged guerilla-like war against the UN-backed Somalia government for over a decade now, despite suffering setbacks in the process.
The UN has deployed slightly over 20,000 soldiers mainly from East Africa to Somalia. The troops, who work under AMISOM, are paid by the international community.
Some analysts say that despite progress in capturing villages controlled by Al-Shabaab, the Federal Government of Somalia does not have a clear plan on how to integrate them into the system.
UN Panel of Experts in November last year warned that Al-Shabaab militants had reverted to mafia-style taxation tactics to sustain their activities.