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Some 1,000 Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ahlusuna Waljamaa (ASWJ) soldiers have completed a rigorous three-month military training in Dolo district of Gedo region.
In a ground-breaking ceremony held on Monday, the soldiers staged a military passout parade attended by senior military officers from TFG, ASWJ and from neighboring Ethiopia.
Senior officers from TFG and ASWJ told Somalia Report that the trainee soldiers had been trained by experienced military experts from the Ethiopian government, and that they would become part of TFG forces in Bay, Bakool and Gedo region who are fighting against the militant group al-Shabaab.
“We thank our friends from Ethiopia for giving us a hand in training our troops," said said Mahamud Sayid Aden, a TFG MP in Gedo region, adding that he hoped the new force will help beef up the security of the three regions.
He said, “We also hope the residents of those regions will work closely with the Somali National Forces, so as to defeat the al-Shabaab who have been bothering us for the last three years."
According to ASWJ’s spokesman in southern Somali regions, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, the newly-recruited soldiers have already been deployed to the districts of Luq and Beledhawo which form part of the Gedo region. He vowed that the force was determined to launch new offensives against the al-Shabaab in the region.
“The soldiers are a combination of ASWJ and TFG forces, and they have already been taken to Gedo region and will reach Bay and Bakool regions as soon as possible, if ASWJ, TFG and Somali people work together,” he told Somalia Report.
“We are ready to free our people from the al-Shabaab," Sheikh Hussein said, pointing out that the international community and neighboring countries were on their side. Local elders and elites from Gedo region who attended the passout parade expressed joy and confidence in the new force, mainly made up of youths from the region.
“We are welcoming these youths to take part in the operation of eradicating al- Shabaab and we want to encourage them to observe professional etiquette and behave well while on duty,” said Hussein Abdirashid, a local elder.
Gedo region has been embroiled in fierce battles in recent months, as the TFG troops fought with the al-Shabaab. In the latest attack in Elwaaq and Busaar districts, the militant al-Shabaab claimed victory over the TFG forces, after they killed a senior officer and seized a military vehicle.
Claims are also rife that a portracted feud based on tribal lines exists within the TFG forces with members from both Garre and Marehaan clans rivaling over who should take control in the war against the al-Shabaab in the region.