MOGADISHU, Somalia – Turkey.-backed forces have made their first military victory over Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked group in Somalia on Tuesday after liberating a major stronghold held by the militants.
The military troops regained control of Awdheegle town, some 70 kilometers southwest of Somali capital Mogadishu, marking the end of a brutal self-styled caliphate the group carved out in large parts of Somalia.
For many years, Awdheegle was the main base in the Lower Shabelle region, where Al Shabaab assembled, planned and launched its attacks, according to Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rage, a leading military force in the region.
He says the troops had successfully taken control of the town earlier on Tuesday without firing a single as the militants withdrew before the military forces’ arrival.
“This is a strategic agricultural town where Al Shabaab used as one of its strongholds, but now, we liberated it from the group”, he said.
Turkey’s trained and well-equipped Somali troops with battle-wagons moved into the town cautiously and also ransacked offices abandoned by the Al Shabaab.
This is the first military operation carried out by Turkey-backed forces in Somalia since their military training conclusion at Ankara’s largest military base in Mogadishu.
In Awdheegle, the forces are still conducting patrols, securing critical infrastructure such as roads and schools, according to a statement released by the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Gen. Rage says such decisive operation is part of the continued offensive against Al-Shabaab.
He also explained that seizure of the town is central to the delivery of justice to all Somalis who have been victims of the brutality of Al Shabaab for many years.
Al Shabaab, the deadliest Islamic organization in Africa declared their allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2010.
The militant group was driven out of Mogadishu capital in 2011, and have since lost many strongholds to Somali army and African Union troops
The al Qaeda linked group still holds large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerilla war against the Western-backed government of Somalia.