U.S. aiding Somalia for major offensive to retake its capital

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Mogadishu (Somalia), Mar 6(ANI): The United States is aiding the Somali Government, which is preparing a major offensive to finally reassert its control over its capital and bring order to a country that has been steeped in anarchy for two decades.

New chief of Somalia's military General Mohamed Gelle Kahiye said that he recently shared plans about the coming military operations with American advisers.

"It's the Americans. They're helping us," The New York Times quoted General Kahiye, as saying.

For the U.S., it is part of a counterterrorism strategy to deny a haven to Al-Qaeda, which has found sanctuary for years in Somalia's chaos and has helped turn it into a magnet for terrorists from around the world, the report said.

The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about the link between Somalia and Yemen, a growing extremist hot spot, with fighters going back and forth across the Red Sea - described by many as an "Al Qaeda exchange program." the report added.

However, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Johnnie Carson, said: "This is not an American offensive."

"The U.S. military is not on the ground in Somalia. Full stop. There are limits to outside engagement, and there has to be an enormous amount of local buy-in for this work," Carson added.

According to reports, most of the American military assistance to the Somali government has been focused on training, or has been channeled through African Union peacekeepers.

According to the report, an American official in Washington, however, has predicted that American covert forces would get involved if the offensive dislodged Al-Qaeda terrorists.What you're likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out," the official said.

Over the past several months, American advisers have helped supervise the training of the Somali forces to be deployed in the offensive, though American officials said that this was part of a ontinuing program to "build the capacity" of the Somali military, and that there has been no increase in military aid for the coming operations. (ANI)

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