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BREAKING: ASWJ withdraw from Guriel, ending four days of intense battle

Wednesday October 27, 2021

Government troops are now in control of Guriel.

Guriel (HOL) - Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ ) forces have left Guriel early Wednesday morning after four days of intense battle against government security troops that have left more than 120 people dead and another 100,000 displaced.

The withdrawal of Ahlu Sunna forces from Guriel district came after local businessmen and politicians facilitated talks to secure a safe passage for the group.

Galmudug and federal government forces managed to take control of Guriel on Saturday afternoon.  They held onto the town despite an ASWJ offensive on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Fighters loyal to ASWJ retreated north to the nearby village of Godwiil. The group previously defied a government ultimatum to leave the town on Sunday.

Government troops now control the town and have secured the main roads and established checkpoints.

Fighting between ASWJ and Galmudug regional security forces - backed by Federal troops - began at dawn on Saturday morning. Government troops, who have been mobilizing on the outskirts of Guriel, attacked ASWJ fighters who overran Galmudug security forces nearly three weeks prior.

The fighting was intense and involved vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft guns, mortars and heavy artillery. Among the dead on the first day of battle was the regional commander of Somalia's elite Danaab Brigade, a US-trained commando force. Residents say Ahlu Sunna mobilized local religious leaders and madrasa teachers to fight alongside them in the battle, which lasted the whole day.

According to the VOA, the US said it would review its support for the Danaab, which is outfitted by the US to fight against the militant insurgency group Al-Shabaab.

ASWJ, a Sufi paramilitary group, was previously a government ally in the region as they both collaborated to fight Al Shabaab. The group was ousted from Galmudug by Somali troops in early 2020 following the formation of the new Galmudug regional administration. The group re-emerged earlier this month, taking over Guriel and another nearby town.

The UN voiced its concerns on Wednesday about the humanitarian impact the conflict will have on the more than 100,000 people who have been displaced. Galmudug President Ahmed Abdi Kariye "Qoorqoor" defended his government's decision to deploy a military offensive against the group, saying that all diplomatic options were exhausted.


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