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US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, 1st time in decades
16 April 2017, 02:19 | Dawn Berry
The United States is deploying "a few dozen" troops to Somalia to assist the national army and conduct unspecified security operations, a U.S. military spokeswoman said Saturday. Campbell, Kentucky, arrived in Mogadishu on April 2 at the request of the Somali government, the US military official told VOA.
In an email to CNN, Charles Chuck Prichard, a spokesperson for US Africa Command, confirmed the deployment Friday, saying that the deployment of "a few dozen troops from the 101st Airborne Division" came "at the request and in close coordination with" the government of Somalia. Even now, Somalia's fragile central government is struggling to assert itself after the nationwide chaos that began with the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. About 40 troops are taking part.
The U.S.in recent years has sent some special operations forces and advisers to Somalia, and President Donald Trump recently approved an expanded military role there. At about the same moment, the New York Timesrevealed an imminent Obama administration plan to deem al-Shabab "to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials", strengthening President-elect Donald Trump's authority to carry out missions there in 2017 and beyond.
Last week, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called on al-Shabab fighters to surrender within 60 days in return for education and jobs.
Al-Shabab also caused alarm in February 2016 when it claimed responsibility for the bombing of an airliner that made an emergency landing with a gaping hole in the fuselage shortly after taking off from Mogadishu.
The move is another example of the acceleration of US efforts to help combat violent extremism across the globe, a second military official said. On Sunday, Somalia's new military chief survived a suicide auto bomb attack following his swearing-in, while 13 people were killed.
On Monday, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest penetrated a fortified Somali National Army base in the city, killing at least five soldiers.
Al-Shabab was chased out of Mogadishu several years ago by national and African Union multinational forces but still controls some rural areas. Al-Shabab, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States, pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012.
Somalia's fragile central government is still propped up by the worldwide community and a 22,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force after almost three decades of civil war and anarchy.
This month marks 10 years since the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) started.
Two weeks after President Donald Trump gave military officials wider authority for conducting airstrikes in Somalia, the United States military said that dozens of troops had arrived in the country, a sign of increased USA involvement there.
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