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Kenyan airstrikes drive al-Shabab terrorists from Somalia strongholds
About 1,500 Kenyan soldiers crossed Somalia’s eastern border in October without approval from African Union peacekeepers, who were there to support a shaky transitional government in a lawless nation gripped in turmoil for more than 20 years.
They arrived in the rainy season and got nowhere. They were soon roundly dismissed as inexperienced foreign invaders with no clear objective and guilty of undermining the peacekeeping agenda.
That image began to change in December when Kenyan troops in southern Somalia proved pivotal in helping Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government troops take back the town of Damasa along Kenya’s border.
On Feb. 3, two Kenyan helicopter gunships hit an al-Shabab convoy in Dalayat village in the south, killing an estimated 100 militants and leading to the takeover of Hosingo and Badade towns.
The combined forces of Kenyan and African Union troops now possess 80 percent of the Gedo region. Bardheere is the only major town under rebel control. Residents who fled al-Shabab’s brutal Islamist rule are now returning.
Kenya has enlisted fighter jets from Jordan, armored trucks from Israel and attack helicopters from China. They are reportedly negotiating with Washington to obtain F-15s and other military hardware used in Iraq.
Meanwhile, although not working in coordination with Kenyan forces, Ethiopian troops in December took the strategic town of Beledweyne along the Somalia-Ethiopia border, taking some pressure off Kenyan forces to the south.
Closer intelligence collaboration with troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia has helped foil al-Shabab terrorist plans. About 12,000 soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti made up the African Union peacekeeping mission, which the United Nations approved in 2007.
So far, those concerns have proved unfounded. Kenya has disrupted recruitment links that al-Shabab has inside Kenya, including in the Nairobi slum of Marengo, said Kenyan forces spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna.
By Tom Fitton
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White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow