US-trained Somali special forces unit targeted by Shabaab

Two days after Shabaab launched a suicide assault on a joint US-Somali base in southern Somalia, the jihadist group ambushed soldiers belonging to the US-trained Danab special forces unit near Mogadishu.

Earlier today, as a column of soldiers belonging to the Danab [Lightening] Brigade travelled between Afgooye and Mogadishu, two separate roadside bombs targeted the vehicles.

At least six soldiers were killed in the blasts, according to reports. That includes two officers within the Brigade

Shabaab was quick to claim credit for the attacks. In a short statement released online, the al Qaeda branch – while exaggerating the casualty numbers – said that “the series of attacks against US and EU forces and their apostate allies are part of the ongoing jihad against the Western-led Crusade against Islam and Muslims in Somalia.”

Shabaab added that “there will never be safe haven for US Crusaders, African invaders, and apostate traitors in the Muslim lands of Somalia.”

Shabaab’s statement referred to Monday’s suicide assault on the joint US-Somali base and the ambush on Italian forces in Mogadishu.

The Danab Brigade is a US funded and organized special forces brigade that often operates alongside US special forces soldiers on the ground. Danab was instrumental in helping the US repel Shabaab’s assault on Monday.

The US has built up the brigade as part of its widening role to combat Shabaab and the Islamic State inside Somalia. Shabaab routinely claims attacks against Danab’s units, which tracks with the unit’s role in Somali-government offensives in southern Somalia.

Shabaab has remained a persistent threat to the Somali government and neighboring countries despite efforts by both the African Union and the US to defeat it over the past decade. The group has also retained the ability to strike in more heavily fortified areas of Mogadishu.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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