US defense officials estimate that Washington’s military campaign in Somalia could take seven years to complete, a new report has revealed, days after President Donald Trump extended the Pentagon’s mission for combating terrorism in the Horn of Africa nation.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has been carrying out periodic airstrikes in Somalia to support the UN-backed government there, which has been making efforts over the years to uproot the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terrorist group spread across the country.

The militant outfit has recently grown more powerful in central Somalia, carrying out attacks against government, military, and civilian targets in the capital, Mogadishu, as well as regional towns.

The Pentagon has about 500 to 600 personnel as part of its purported counter-terrorism mission in Somalia , according to AFRICOM: “We think it’s going to take approximately seven years for the Somalis to absorb all of these forces,” an unnamed defense official familiar with the US counter-terrorism strategy in Somalia told CNN on Saturday.

“If everything works out and however many miracles line up to make this happen it could go faster, and it could go slower,” the source added. Other officials at the US Department of Defense have also told CNN that the US mission is “likely to not be completed until 2026.”

Trump signed an executive order this week to extend a presidential declaration of a national emergency concerning Somalia for another year, denouncing the rising militancy in the African country as an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the US.

Earlier this week, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire traveled to Washington to discuss military cooperation and a wide range of issues with US National Security Adviser John Bolton and other senior American officials, including Under Secretary for Defense David Norquist and David Hale, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

Besides the ongoing US military campaign in his country, Khaire said on his twitter account that “economic recovery” and “progress on security sector reform” were among other important issues discussed.

Source: Press TV

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