US-backed Somalia commandos kill 4 Al-Shabab extremists

Somali and US commandos stormed a camp for Al-Shabab extremists and killed at least four of the fighters.(Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
0

US-backed Somalia commandos kill 4 Al-Shabab extremists

MOGADISHU: Somali and US commandos stormed a camp for Al-Shabab extremist fighters in an overnight raid, killing at least four of the fighters and rescuing child conscripts, a Somali intelligence official said Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said special forces raided the camp in Jame’o village in Middle Shabelle region. A local commander was among those killed, he said.
A second official confirmed the raid, which was carried out with the support of helicopters that later evacuated the young recruits.
Human Rights Watch earlier in the week accused Al-Shabab of the forced recruitment of hundreds of children in recent months. The recruitment of children is a long-standing practice of the Al-Qaeda-linked group which faces growing military pressure across south and central Somalia.
It was not immediately clear how many children were rescued during the overnight raid.
Also on Friday, the US military said it had carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed four members of the Al-Shabab extremist group.
A statement from the US Africa Command said the strike was carried out Thursday about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo. The statement said no civilians were killed.
The US military carried out more than 30 drone strikes last year in the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation after President Donald Trump approved expanded military efforts against Al-Shabab.
The extremist group was blamed for the October truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 512 people. Thursday’s US airstrike was the first since one early this month that killed two Al-Shabab extremists and destroyed a vehicle carrying explosives, “preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu.”
Last year, Somalia’s Somali-American president vowed that his government would drive the extremist group out of the country.


Further Taliban assaults likely in weeks ahead — US Defense chief Mattis

Updated 17 August 2018
0

Further Taliban assaults likely in weeks ahead — US Defense chief Mattis

  • The Taliban had six objectives in and around the city of Ghazni and failed to seize any of them
  • Some Taliban fighters were still holed up in houses in the city ‘trying to get resupplied’

BOGOTA, Colombia: The Taliban is likely to keep up its recent surge of violence in advance of scheduled parliamentary elections in October but Western-backed Afghan defenses will not break, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday.
In his most detailed comments on the Taliban’s assault on the eastern city of Ghazni since it began Aug. 10, Mattis said the Taliban had six objectives in and around the city and failed to seize any of them. He would not specify the six sites.
In Ghazni, provincial police chief Farid Mashal said Thursday that roads were being cleared of mines planted by Taliban who temporarily held entire neighborhoods of the city that they had besieged. The fighting continued for five days with more than 100 members of the Afghan National Security forces killed and 20 civilians. Scores of Taliban were also killed, according to Afghan officials.
Mattis said some Taliban fighters were still holed up in houses in the city “trying to get resupplied.” He said businesses are reopening, and overall, “it’s much more stable” in Ghazni, showing that the Taliban have fallen short.
“They have not endeared themselves, obviously, to the population of Ghazni,” Mattis said. “They use terror. They use bombs because they can’t win with ballots.”
The Taliban operation followed a familiar pattern, Mattis said in remarks to reporters flying with him Thursday evening to Bogota, Colombia, where he was winding up a weeklong tour of South America.
The insurgents likely were trying to gain leverage in advance of an expected cease fire offer by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, he said. And they likely were hoping to sow fear in advance of the October elections, he added.
“They achieved a degree of disquiet,” he said, but nothing more.
“So, we’ll continue to see this sort of thing,” he said, even though the Taliban lack the strength to hold territory they seize for brief periods. “They will never hold against the Afghan army.”
The Afghan war has been stalemated for years. The Taliban lack the popular support to prevail, although they benefit from sanctuary in Pakistan. Afghan government forces, on the other hand, are too weak to decisively break the insurgents even as they develop under US and NATO training and advising.
Mattis has said he believes the Afghan security forces are gaining momentum and can wear down the Taliban to the point where the insurgents would choose to talk peace. So far that approach has not produced a breakthrough.
Next week will mark one year since President Donald Trump announced a revised war strategy for Afghanistan, declaring there would be no time limit on US support for the war and making a renewed push for peace negotiations.