The militant group al-Shabaab captured the towns of El Dher and Gal’ad. The development means another setback in the government’s offensive in the Galgaduud region of Galmudug. The frontline seems to be entirely collapsing, however the situation there remains fluid.
El Dher (Ceel Dheer) & Gal’ad (Galcad), Galgaduud, Galmudug, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
The Somali government’s attempted offensive, aimed at concluding Phase I of rooting out al-Shabaab militants from Galmudug, is falling apart. Since yesterday, the Islamists recaptured Wabho, Osweyne, Budbud, Gal’ad and El Dher. Moreover, al-Shabaab has encircled the strategic town of El Buur, which the government forces liberated on Saturday.
Additional reports indicate that al-Shabaab also intends to capture the town of Masagaway. Some of the government troops stationed in El Dher reportedly withdrew to Masagaway after learning about their comrades’ fate in Osweyne. On Saturday morning, al-Shabaab recaptured Osweyne after an intense battle with the Somali National Army (SNA) and Ma’awisley militias. The battle began with a suicide attack followed by a ground assault by al-Shabaab militants. Casualties were high.
This morning, al-Shabaab recaptured the Wabho district without facing any resistance after the government forces withdrew. This comes as the government troops left Budbud yesterday and suffered a humiliating defeat at Osweyne.
These enormous setbacks will have dire consequences for local trust in the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). Experts have long warned the government that it lacks staying power – the ability to hold territories they captured from the Islamists.
The focus of the next hours and days will most likely lie on Masagaway and the recently liberated El Buur. Al-Shabaab now completely encircled the strategic town, and most recent reports indicate that the SNA is about to retreat from the town.
With the current breakdown across the frontline, it is difficult to imagine that Phase I of operations aimed at rooting out al-Shabaab from Galmudug could wrap up anytime soon. Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is still in the State’s capital, Dhuusamareeb, allegedly ‘spearheading‘ the operations. However, the operations are virtually falling apart and will likely have far-reaching implications, especially regarding locals’ trust in the central government.