Somalia: UK Troops Deployed to Help Fight Against Al-Shabaab
British troops have entered Somalia to join the United Nations mission against Islamist militant groups in the country.
A small group of 10 soldiers is the first batch of UK troops to arrive in Somalia and offer support to African Union (AU) forces fighting against militant group Al-Shabaab. A total of 70 personnel are expected to arrive from the UK to aid medical, logistical and engineering operations.
UK troops to play support role
The team of UK military personnel will serve to reinforce the existing UN mission in Somalia by providing support in vital areas. The small team won’t be involved in any fighting but fill a number of key logistical roles to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
British defence secretary Michael Fallon says the move shows the UK’s commitment to fighting terrorism around the world.
“This deployment is another demonstration of the flexibility and global reach of our armed forces,” he said. “Alongside our efforts in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, it shows our determination to tackle terrorism wherever it rears its head.”
Al-Shabaab fighting back in Somalia
After relative success in Somalia, AMISOM and Somali forces have seen militant group Al-Shabaab intensify its efforts over the last six months. The Al-Qaeda affiliate has staged an increasing number of attacks in Somalia this year and threatened more attacks in Kenya.
AMISOM forces – which mostly comprise of troops from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi and Djibouti – have been fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia since 2007. The militant group is believed to have somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters but the real figure is unknown.
A key concern for Somalia and all those involved in AMISOM is the emergence of new terrorist threats in the country. Not only do Al-Shabaab attacks appear to be becoming more sophisticated, ISIS recently staged its first attack in Somalia as a new group calling itself Jahba East Africa has emerged in the country.
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