Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-The Force Commander of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Lieutenant General Sam Okiding, emphasized the role played by ATMIS forces in operations against the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization.

In an interview with Dawan TV on Thursday, General Okiding stated that ATMIS doesn’t lead operations but only provides support for the SNA, which primarily leads these missions.

“We don’t lead operations these days, but we support the SNA. Even if the SNA are 20, and ATMIS are 400, the operation is not for ATMIS, it is for SNA,” Lt. General Okiding said.

He mentioned a recent operation in which ATMIS worked alongside the SNA to root out Al-Shabaab fighters in a defense sector.

“In phase one operations, I got a call requesting ATMIS to uproot Al-Shabaab in a defence, that was in sector three. So I deployed ATMIS forces from sector three artillery to overrun the Al-Shabaab defence in two defences,” he noted.

“We uprooted two defenses of Al-Shabaab, that was around August this year, and the troops involved were from sector three. When we do operations, we don’t say ATMIS has done; it is the SNA who has done because these days, we support them; they are the ones leading the operations,” he added.

The Lieutenant General pointed out that the SNA requested combat engineers to clear a road, and ATMIS promptly sent forces to fulfill this requirement.

“I again received communications, they (SNA) wanted combat engineers to clear the road, so that the SNA could not move; we sent troops from sector three to clear the MSR,” he stated.

He also refuted concerns about ATMIS’s effectiveness, stating that the troops have successfully cleared Al-Shabaab fighters from Cali Fooldheere forest.

“The issue of ATMIS not effective, is a misconception, we are very effective. I am telling you that we flushed Al-Shabaab from Cali Fooldheere forest; it was purely ATMIS forces, we only had 20 soldiers of SNA. But we give credit to SNA, and say SNA has flushed Al-Shabaab,” he added.

The Force Commander further highlighted the media’s impact on destabilizing the country’s peace and stability, stating, “the media is classified as a weapon of mass destruction, just like artillery. Therefore, I urge you to report in the best interests of the nation.”

He addressed the issues in Las’Anod amid eight months of conflict between the SSC-Khatumo and the Somaliland National Army, adding the possibility of negotiations with Al-Shabaab.

“ATMIS is here to promote peace in whenever conflicts arises. The issue of Las’Anod is a different one, there were tribal clashes in the areas. We have nothing to do with tribal conflicts that is why we advocate for reconciliation. We need to talk and understand where is the problem and what has caused, and then it is handled,” the commander said.

He added, “Not every problem is solved with a gun, even Al-Shabaab we need to talk to them at certain point. The reconciliation will bring a lot of problems to rest.”

This comes three days after the breakaway republic of Somaliland strongly rejected a UN Security Council resolution that suggested an extension of ATMIS’s mandate in Somaliland.

The Somaliland Administration stated that ATMIS has no jurisdictional mandate over its territory.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), formerly AMISOM, has been present in Somalia since March 2007 and has actively engaged in the fight against the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization, which has become a threat not only to Somalia but also to its neighboring countries.

In the first phase, 2,000 ATMIS soldiers were withdrawn from Somalia, and six bases were transferred to the Somali National Army. The second phase is the final step in the drawdown process, which will facilitate the complete withdrawal of the remaining ATMIS troops by December 2024.

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