Mogadishu, Somalia — Ahlu Sunnah militia forces have been integrated into Somali Federal Government troops on Saturday, after fighting Al Shabaab alongside Somali government troops for 2 years, Garowe Online reports.
Ahlu Sunnah's Operational Chief Sheikh Mohamed Yusuf Hefow stated in Mogadishu on Saturday that Ahlu Sunnah forces are now officially part of Federal Government troops.
"The Ahlu Sunnah forces have now officially joined the federal armed forces of Somalia," said Sheikh Hefow.
Sheikh Hefow stated that the Federal Government integrated the Ahlu Sunnah militants into the Somali armed forces after long discussions with the government officials.
"Ahlu Sunnah has been fighting Al Shabaab for quite some time; the government has also been fighting Al Shabaab. So we have had the same cause and now after long discussions we have aligned our cause," said Sheikh Hefow.
The reportedly 2000 strong Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'a - a moderate Suffi group- forces have been fighting Al Shabaab since 2008 after Al Shabaab militants attempted to desecrate religious Suffi sites in Galgaduud region in central Somalia.
In 2010 Ahlu Sunnah forces signed a deal with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that granted the group control of 5 ministries as well as security posts in government.
The Ahlu Sunnah forces have received money, weapons and training from Ethiopia to fight Al Shabaab in central and southern Somalia.
Ethiopia was worried that Al Shabaab's threat in Gedo and Galgaduud regions - that share borders with Ethiopia - would destabilize security along the Somali-Ethiopia border.
The Ras Kamboni militia is another militia group fighting Al Shabab in Somalia and alongside Ahlu Sunnah, Somali government troops and Kenya uprooted Al Shabaab from the Jubaland regions.