Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-The Somali National Army, ATMIS Burundi and Uganda troops, and the local community ‘Macawisley’ have conducted joint operations in the Cali Fooldheere forest in the Middle Shabelle region.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) announced the operations and claimed to have inflicted casualties on Al-Shabaab, dislodging the militants from the area.

“The African Transition Mission (ATMIS) Burundi and Uganda troops, in a joint military offensive with the Somali National Army and local Macawisley volunteers, have inflicted heavy casualties on Al-Shabaab terrorists in Cali Fooldheere in the Middle Shabelle region,” the ATMIS statement reads.

The successful operation followed days of an all-out ground and artillery offensive, which concluded on Sunday, October 1st, to flush out Al-Shabaab militants from the forested area.

ATMIS Force Commander, Lieutenant General Sam Okiding, stated that the forest area has been a strategic location for Al-Shabaab militants over the past years.

“The Cali Fooldheere forest has particularly over the years become a strategic location where the terrorists plan deadly attacks and conceal ammunition, including vehicles for Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs),” said General Sam Okiding, ATMIS Force Commander.

The African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef, praised the security cooperation and joint efforts in combating Al-Shabaab terrorists.

He reiterated ATMIS’s commitment to fully transfer the security responsibilities to the Somali security forces as part of the Somali Transition Plan.

“I commend the brave efforts of our gallant ATMIS troops and the Somali National Army to degrade Al-Shabaab. ATMIS is fully committed to implementing the Somali Transition Plan, which will culminate in the transfer of security responsibility to the Somali security forces,” Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine said.

These joint efforts come at a time when concerns have been raised about Somalia’s request for a ‘technical pause’ to delay the withdrawal of African Transition Mission (ATMIS) troops for 90 days.

The request, which gained support from troop-contributing countries like Djibouti and other partners, including the U.S., will delay the withdrawal of 3,000 ATMIS soldiers for 90 days.

The request came from the federal government of Somalia amid a surge in Al-Shabaab attacks, including the attack on the Osweyne military base and Run Nirgod, which killed several soldiers.

The first phase of the drawdown saw the withdrawal of more than 3,000 soldiers from Somalia, and this second phase is the final step in the drawdown process, facilitating the complete withdrawal of the remaining ATMIS troops.

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