US to back Somalia offensive

March 6, 2010 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Mar 6 – US special operations forces could help the Somali government, which is preparing an offensive to dislodge Al-Qaeda militants from the capital Mogadishu, The New York Times reported.

Citing an unnamed US official in Washington, the newspaper said the offensive could begin in a few weeks.

"What youre likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out," the official is quoted in the report as saying.

Over the past several months, American advisers have helped supervise the training of the Somali forces to be deployed in the offensive, the paper said.

US officials said that this was part of a continuing program to "build the capacity" of the Somali military, and that there has been no increase in military aid for the coming operations, The Times noted.

Washington has provided covert training to Somali intelligence officers, logistical support to peacekeepers, fuel for the maneuvers, intelligence on insurgent positions and money for bullets and guns, said the Times.

Washington is also using its clout as the biggest supplier of humanitarian aid to Somalia.

It has encouraged private aid agencies to move quickly into "newly liberated areas" to help civilians in an effort to make the government more popular, The Times said.

US military intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s, commanding a major international relief operation ended in disaster when the UN force became drawn into fighting with local warlords.

During the so-called "Battle of Mogadishu" in October 1993, forces loyal to warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid killed a total of 18 US soldiers on a single day, dragging some of their bodies through the streets of the city Mogadishu.


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