Al-Shabaab fighters sit on a truck in Mogadishu, Somalia
Security sources and officials in the Lower Shabelle region say Friday’s attack was led by Somalia’s Danab commando team, accompanied by U.S. special operation forces (SOF).
The team attacked a target in Dar es Salam village, located between the small towns of Barire and Mubarak, both controlled by al-Shabab, the Somali sources said. The area is said to be mostly farmland with large banana and pawpaw crops.
One official told that helicopters carried the commandos and special forces from Ballidogle airport, a known base for U.S. trainers working with Somali forces, to a point near Barire, and the soldiers then walked to Dar es Salam village. A Somali ground force from the town of Afgoye supported the raid, which began overnight Friday.
US: Militants ‘neutralized’
Pentagon spokesman Davis said U.S. and Somali forces “quickly neutralized” enemy forces on the ground, and evacuated the wounded aboard helicopters.
VOA Somalia reported al-Shabab later sealed off an area around Dar es Salam village, where the firefight took place. The militants claimed they also deployed large numbers of reinforcements.
U.S. special operations forces and Somali commandos have been conducting joint operations for more than a year now as part of the U.S. effort to help the Somali government combat al-Shabab. Joint operations have taken place in Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba, two regions where al-Shabab has a large presence, and especially in the strategic agricultural area west of Afgoye where Friday’s action took place.
The U.S. says military personnel advises and assist Somali security forces, but local officials say U.S. troops also provide helicopters and intelligence gathering.
Last month, dozens of American soldiers deployed to Mogadishu for a separate mission to train and equip Somali and AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) forces fighting extremism in Somalia, U.S. military officials told VOA.
Somali officials say more than 500 Somalia commandos have been trained by the U.S., and the Somali government has said it wants to increase the number of trained commandos to 4,000.
18 Americans died in ‘Black Hawk’ disaster
In the early 1990s, the United Nations attempted to provide and secure humanitarian relief in Somalia while monitoring a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in the Somali civil war. The U.S. deployed thousands of American troops to carry out the peacekeeping mission, which by late 1993 had expanded to try to restore a government in Somalia.
Two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in October 1993. Rescue squads sent in to try to remove soldiers from the crash sites became pinned down, and a 15-hour battle ensued that killed 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis.
Days later, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton announced that he would remove all American combat forces from Somalia by March 1994, and the United States also withdrew from the peacekeeping missions in the East African country.