US to review support for Danab following clashes with Sufi militia in Somalia

US has been training Danab for nearly ten years to help fight against Al-Shabaab [File photo]

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A US diplomat says Washington will review its support for Danab, an elite unit of the Somali National Army [SNA], following the decision by the team to fight Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a [ASWJ], a moderate Sufi militia, which initially used to fight Al-Shabaab militants.

Before falling out with the federal government, ASWJ was a close ally of both Americans and SNA in the fight against Al-Shabaab. The emerging differences have derailed the fight against the militants.

According to an official from the US embassy in Mogadishu told VOA the US is not taking reports of Danab fighting with ASWJ "lightly". Already, the Sufi militia has withdrawn from Guriel town following persuasion from the business community.

For years, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a has been a credible partner to security forces in the fight against Al-Shabaab. Last week, the militia, which took over Guriel town, came under attack from SNA and Galmadug regional forces.

During the intense battle, a Danab commander, Major Abdilatif Ahmed Ali Fayfle, was among those killed in the fighting.

The source, who spoke in confidence, said the US has intelligence that Danab Special Forces participated in the duel. The official said the support would be reviewed as a result of that involvement.

"The United States provides training and support coordination to Somali National Army Danab Brigade units to advance our shared objective of defeating al-Shabab," said the official. "As a result of this incident, we will be reviewing the support we provide to ensure it is being used appropriately and consistent with U.S. policy and objectives."

Until now, General Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, the Chief of Defense Forces of Somalia, could not be reached for comment. However, it's understood that the Galmadug regional administration asked for backup, forcing the federal government to deploy Danab to the region.

The US has been a major financier of the Danab forces, including but not limited to training and equipping them. The vision of supporting the Special Forces was to prepare them adequately in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants.

The official added that the US was sympathetic to the affected families given that already, over 120 people have been killed. "We call on all sides to cease military operations and engage in political dialogue towards a peaceful resolution," said the official.

ASWJ left Guriel on Monday evening following an intervention by local businessmen, leading to a total takeover by Somali National Army. It's not clear if the moderate Sufi militia will participate in the fight against the Al-Shabaab in the future.


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