Shabaab abandons Afgoye as Somali, African Union troops advance

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, has lost control of another major stronghold as African Union and Somali troops press their offensive against the terror group. Today Shabaab abandoned Afgoye, a city just 20 miles west of Mogadishu that has been used as a base to attack the capital. From Garowe Online:

Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and African Union’s AMISOM troops entered the town of Afgoye midday Friday and captured the town without any casualties.

According to government sources, Al Shabaab insurgents fled the town the night before after Somali and AMISOM forces captured the town of Elesha Biyaha and were en route to Afgoye.

“Around midday prayers, our forces entered the town of Afgoye which we are in complete control of, after Al Shabaab agents fled the night before,” said Gen. Abdullahi Anood, a TFG General.

According to local sources, Al Shabaab agents fled north to Marko a port city and base for Al Shabaab in southern Somalia.

Shabaab spokesman Sheik Abdiaziz Abu Musab claimed that his forces “tactically withdrew” from Afgoye. From Al Jazeera:

“The mujahedeen fighters tactically withdrew from some positions but that does not represent a defeat,” Musab added. “We have already cut their supply routes and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy.”

Shabaab said the exact same thing when its forces withdrew from Mogadishu late last summer. Shabaab has since resorted to IED and suicide attacks, assassinations, and ambushes in the capital.

Afgoye served as a major meeting place for senior Shabaab leaders. Back in May 2011, the top leadership of Shabaab, including Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, and American-born Omar Hammami held a daylong meeting to commemorate the death of Osama bin Laden.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Will Fenwick says:

    Kismayo is the big fish to fry. Likely the largest concentration of Shabab is there. Though to a well equipped force it still wont be nearly as tough enough a nut to crack for the Kenyans as Zinjibar is to the Yemenis. Technicals are no match for tanks or even armored cars as the Islamic Courts Union found out when the Ethiopians attacked them in 2006. They abandoned their fixed positions around Kismayo in 2007 after they were routed when their attempted to fight a pitched at Jilib collapsed.

  • Fred says:

    Isn’t this what happened last time? The ICU lost the war and Ethiopia went home. Then the ICU showed up again with a new coat of paint as al-Shabaab and went back to work as if nothing happened.
    Sounds like a tactical withdrawal to me.

  • Joe says:

    Shabaab is not currently strong enough to hold territory against concerted attacks by it’s enemies. They no long have the necessary level of support. They will resort to guerilla warfare because it’s cheaper and within their current capabilities, but the real question is whether or not the government et al can take advantage of their weakness.


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