A delegation of high-ranking Ethiopian officers, including Major General Tesfaye Ayalew and General Haji, arrived in Beledweyne, the capital of the Hiran region, on Saturday.
They were accompanied by other Ethiopian government officials, such as Adan Ahmed Sooyan, the governor of the Shabelle region within the Somali regional state.
The visit aims to help the Ethiopian army prepare for the Somali government’s highly anticipated second phase of offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. This phase is expected to occur in Hiran, among other regions.
Ethiopian forces operating outside the African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) mandate are anticipated to arrive in the Hiran region in the coming days and participate in the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab.
Earlier this month, HOL learned from a high-level security source that Somalia’s neighbours, including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti, have reportedly committed to a massive troop surge to combat Al-Shabaab beyond the scope of ATMIS.
Ethiopia is believed to have pledged a significant number of troops, who will be led by a general stationed in Mogadishu.
This development followed a rare defence summit in Mogadishu, hosted by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, which included the leaders of the three aforementioned countries.
Hiran’s governor, Ali Jeyte, who also returned to Beledweyne on Saturday, announced that the second phase of operations in the western part of Hiran would commence shortly.
Last July, Al-Shabaab launched a major attack along the Ethiopia-Somalia border, which involved as many as 2,000 fighters. The Ethiopian army managed to beat back the Al-Shabaab fighters, but regional authorities remain concerned about the group’s possible infiltration as Al-Shabab attempts to establish its presence in Ethiopia.
Shortly after Al-Shabaab’s failed incursion into Ethiopia, government officials announced a plan for Ethiopia’s Somali state to create a buffer zone along the border to fight Al-Shabaab.
Source: Hiiraan Online