Somali troops trained in Eritrea ‘return’ to join fight against Al-Shabab

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The majority of Somali soldiers who received training in Eritrea have returned to their home country, says General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi, the infantry commander Somali National Army.

The troops will join the ongoing operation against the extremist group Al-Shabab, as previously announced by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

In 2019, Somalia sent approximately 5,000 young men to Eritrea for military training, which sparked complaints from their families. The soldiers had reportedly been promised training in Qatar but were instead taken in three batches to Eritrea.

There were also claims that the trainees were smuggled to Ethiopia’s Tigray region and participated in committing genocide, though both Somalia and Ethiopia denied these allegations. The United Nations special rapporteur to Eritrea reported that the Somali soldiers and their Eritrean counterparts were stationed in Axum town in northern Tigray.

According to General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi, most of these trained soldiers have returned to Somalia and joined the ongoing operation against Al-Shabab.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud previously announced that the country would ensure that all trained soldiers are back by the end of January 2023, as their skills will be crucial in eliminating the militant group.

With these fresh troops, it is expected that Somalia will be able to defeat Al-Shabab in the coming months. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud even suggested that the country could be free of Al-Shabab terrorists within the next three months.

Al-Shabab is an extremist group that operates in Somalia and has been active since at least 2006. It is an Islamist militant group that seeks to impose its interpretation of Islamic law on Somalia. It has been designated as a terrorist organization by several countries and organizations, including the United States.

The group has been responsible for numerous attacks in Somalia and the region, including bombings, assassinations, and assaults on military and civilian targets.

Over the years, Al-Shabab has faced resistance from a number of sources, including the Somali government and international military forces.

Civilians in Somalia have also recently played a role in the conflict, with local communities have taken up arms against Al-Shabab, forming militias to defend themselves and their neighborhoods.

It is unclear whether the additional troops that have recently returned to Somalia from training in Eritrea will significantly impact the conflict or lead to the defeat of Al-Shabab within the next three months, as suggested by the president.