Africa: AU Enhance Joint Military Operations Against Al-Shabab

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali security forces will intensify joint military operations to liberate regions still under the control of al-Shabab, the African Union (AU) senior envoy said on Monday evening.

Francisco Madeira, head of AMISOM, stressed the importance of troop generation in securing Somalia, saying the country needs trained forces capable of holding liberated territories.

"Today, partners are helping Somalia generate trained and equipped forces. It is these forces that, with our support, are now holding liberated towns," Madeira said in a statement issued by the AU mission.

The AU envoy who spoke at the Eid al-Adha dinner hosted for the Muslim community in Mogadishu, said the resolve by AMISOM and the Somali government to defeat al-Shabab and bring back peace and security remains unshaken.

"As we celebrate Eid al-Adha, let me congratulate the Force Commander and the Sector One Commander for the important achievements they have made, the recent one being the liberation of Awdheegle," he said.

Madeira added that the strong working relations between AMISOM and the Somali security forces had made the liberation of bridge towns possible. Awdheegle is the fourth bridge town to be liberated in the Lower Shabelle region this year, from the al-Qaida allied terrorist group by Somali security forces with the support of AMISOM troops. Other towns are Sabiid, Bariire and Eel-Saliini.

The AU envoy praised the government for making troop generation a priority, saying Somali National Army battalions are the ones holding liberated territories in these four towns.

"The issue of troop generation to be able to hold on to the liberated towns was very important," Madeira said.

He added that AMISOM will continue pushing for the strengthening of the Somali security forces following the recent success of the joint military operations.

Madeira said conducting joint military operations, protecting population centers and clearing main supply routes are key activities that AMISOM is undertaking as part of the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan, which has the main objective of transferring security responsibility to the Somali security forces. -Xinhua

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