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A senior US defense official confirmed to Fox News on Monday that President Joe Biden had authorized the deployment of hundreds of special operations troops inside Somalia.
The decision comes with the approval of a Pentagon request for permanent authorization to target a dozen suspected leaders of the al-Shabab terror group which operates within the borders of the East African country, the manager said.
It also comes after the Pentagon announced in December 2020 that the “majority” of US troops previously stationed in Somalia would be withdrawn from the Horn of Africa in early 2021.
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The roughly 700 U.S. troops stationed in Somalia would not necessarily be returning home, but instead would be stationed in neighboring countries or other areas, Pentagon officials said at the time.
“The decision to reintroduce a persistent presence was made to maximize the security and effectiveness of our forces and enable them to provide more effective support to our partners,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. to the New York Times in a statement, adding that these measures will allow “a more effective fight against al-Shabab”.
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A senior administration official who spoke to the newspaper said the Biden administration’s strategy in Somalia includes targeting al-Shabab members suspected of playing a role in developing terrorist plots in Somalia. outside the country – and to reduce “the threat to a tolerable level”.
Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, is believed to now number up to 10,000 fighters, The New York Times also reported, citing intelligence officials.
Fox News’ Liz Friden, Lucas Tomlinson and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.