Somalia: Joint ATMIS-SNA Offensive Liberates Cali Fooldheere Forest from Al-Shabaab

Published: October 4, 2023

In a decisive victory against Al-Shabaab militants, joint forces from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the Somali National Army (SNA) have successfully liberated the strategic Cali Fooldheere Forest in the Middle Shabelle region after days of intense fighting.

The successful military offensive involved ground troops from ATMIS’ Burundi and Uganda contingents as well as SNA units and local Ma’awisely militia volunteers. According to ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding, the joint forces bravely dislodged hundreds of entrenched Al-Shabaab fighters from their forest hideout using heavy weaponry.

Cali Fooldheere Forest had become a launching point for Al-Shabaab’s terrorist attacks and ambushes on government and civilian targets, with the militants concealing arms caches and Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) in the dense forests. Its liberation deals a decisive blow to Al-Shabaab’s operations in the Middle Shabelle region.

“I commend the valiant troops whose bravery has freed this strategic forest from the grip of terrorists,” said Lt. Gen. Okiding, while underscoring the forest’s importance as a terrorist hub.

The successful operation is a key victory for ATMIS’ campaign to stabilize Somalia as it transitions security responsibilities to national forces under the Somali Transition Plan. Amb. Souefmo Elamine, Head of ATMIS and the Somalia Reconstruction and Development Council (SRCC), congratulated the forces on their victory and reiterated ATMIS’ commitment to defeating Al-Shabaab and supporting Somalia’s reconstruction.

Joint forces are currently securing the liberated territory in northern Mahaday district and pursuing Al-Shabaab remnants towards the west bank of the Shabelle River to eliminate any remaining threats. The militants had crossed the river last month and set up base in the Cali Fooldheere forests, posing a major danger to nearby cities.