MOSCOW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) - The US military advisers have been covertly working in Somalia since 2007, and Washington eyes to expand its presence in the country, Reuters reported Wednesday citing a sour in the White House.
«What you’ll see with this upcoming fiscal year is the beginning of engagement with the SNA [Somali National Army] proper," Reuters quoted a US defense official as saying.
The agency says that up to 120 troops are operating in the country, though they are not taking part in the combat activities. The White House is planning to deepen its security assistance to help Somalia fend off threats by Islamist militant group al-Shabaab linked to al-Qaeda, Reuters said referring to US officials.
Al-Shabaab group has been fighting for over seven years in the country, attempting to impose an Islamic state in Somalia. The expansion of the American presence in Somalia coincides with the increasing efforts of the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers to crack down on the insurgents.
The agency reports that the US plans not only to beef up its military engagement, but also funds for training and assistance for SNA, after years of working with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has about 22,000 troops in the country.
As it was previously reported, Washington allocated $512 million to AMISOM since 2007 and $171 million for the creation of the professional army in Somalia.
In January Pentagon claimed that it sent a handful of military advisers to Somalia in 2013. However the information regarding the presence of the military in this African country has never been disclosed before.