AU mission hands over military base to Somalia in 3rd phase of troop withdrawal

AU mission hands over military base to Somalia in 3rd phase of troop withdrawal
# 17 June 2024 03:23 (UTC +04:00)

The African Union (AU) Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said on Sunday that it has handed over the Barire military base to the Somali security forces, marking the start of the third phase of the troop drawdown.

ATMIS said the military base, which is located in the Lower Shabelle region under the ATMIS Uganda Peoples' Defense Forces since 2019, holds strategic significance as it serves as a buffer zone about 60 km west of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

"This transfer of the Barire military base is not just a transfer of physical assets, but it symbolizes the progress we have made together in our shared mission," ATMIS Uganda Contingent Commander Anthony Lukwago Mbuusi said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

"Together, we will continue to work toward a brighter future for Somalia, one built on cooperation, mutual respect, and the common goal of finding lasting peace," said Mbuusi who handed over the base to Muhudin Ahmed, the Somali National Army (SNA) representative.

Ahmed lauded ATMIS Uganda troops for their commitment to the transition and their sacrifice in ensuring peace returns to Somalia.

He said the SNA would continue to secure Barire town and its inhabitants from Al-Shabaab attacks and other illegal armed groups.

The AU mission withdrew 5,000 troops from Somalia and handed over 17 military bases to the Somali Security Forces during the first and second phases of the drawdown concluded in 2023.

The third phase of the ATMIS drawdown is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2710 (2023), which mandate ATMIS to withdraw 4,000 troops by the end of June 2024.

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