Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-In a significant step towards Somalia’s security transition, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has handed over the Bariire Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the Somali National Army (SNA). This move marks the third phase of ATMIS’s troop drawdown, aligning with United Nations mandates.

Located in the Lower Shabelle region, approximately 60 km west of Mogadishu, the Bariire FOB has been under the control of ATMIS Uganda Peoples Defence Forces since 2019. The base has played a crucial role as a buffer zone and has strategic importance due to its location in an agriculturally rich area that was previously a key transit point for Al-Shabaab extremists.

Brigadier General Anthony Lukwago Mbuusi, the ATMIS Uganda Contingent Commander, formally handed over the base to Major Muhudin Ahmed, a representative of the SNA, during a ceremony attended by senior officials from both ATMIS and the SNA.

“This transfer of the Bariire FOB is not just a handover of physical assets, but it symbolizes the progress we have made together in our shared mission,” stated Brig. Gen. Mbuusi. “Together, we will continue to work towards a brighter future for Somalia, one built on cooperation, mutual respect, and the common goal of finding lasting peace.”

Also present at the ceremony were Colonel Suleiman Ibrahim, representing the ATMIS Deputy Force Commander in Charge of Support and Logistics, ATMIS FOB Commander Major Bruhan Nsamba, and the incoming SNA FOB Commander, Captain Abdisalam Jama. Colonel Ibrahim praised the troops for their dedication and reiterated the African Union Mission’s continued support for the SNA during the transition.

“The handover of this FOB signifies the willingness and capacity of the SNA to take over the security of Somalia while ATMIS takes a supportive role,” noted Col. Ibrahim. He expressed confidence in the SNA’s ability to maintain security in Bariire and protect its inhabitants from Al-Shabaab and other threats.

In his remarks, Major Muhudin commended the commitment and sacrifices of the ATMIS Uganda troops.

“You came to us as brothers and sacrificed your lives for us. Some of you died in the line of duty for Somalia to be peaceful. We are grateful because not everybody can do that,” said Maj. Muhudin, who also serves as the Deputy Chief of SNA’s Operations Department.

The United Nations Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS) has donated essential equipment to support the transition, including a generator, water treatment plant, solar panels, boreholes, refrigerators, freezers, and water storage tanks.

This transition is part of the third phase of ATMIS’s troop drawdown, which follows United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2710 (2023). These resolutions mandate the withdrawal of 4,000 troops by the end of June 2024. The first two phases of the drawdown, completed last year, saw the reduction of 5,000 AU troops and the handover of 17 FOBs.

The successful handover of the Bariire FOB marks a critical milestone in Somalia’s journey towards self-sufficient national security and stability.

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