The pressure on al-Shabaab could never be greater after several of its outfield commanders and scores of their foot soldiers were liquidated by a lethal combination of Somali military raids and US precision strikes.Several weeks ago, the Somali government claimed its forces had cornered the Islamist fighters who were being relentlessly pursued in their shrinking pockets of hideouts and apparently neutralised.
Shabaab militants have been waging a religiously-driven insurgency in Somalia since 2006.
Over the weekend, joint operations between US and regular Somali troops had led to over 130 Shabaab fighters being killed in skirmishes in south and central Somalia where they are based after they were forced from their bases in and around the capital more than ten years ago.
While it is difficult to verify these apparent successes by the Somali troops with help from the US military, al-Shabaab has been under the cosh as its outfield commanders are eliminated with relative ease, causing the militant group significant setbacks in the battlefield in recent months.
A significant loss to the group happened last weekend when US special forces raided and killed an unnamed key al-Shabab figure in northern Somalia.
Observers say a split within its ranks has not helped al-Shabaab’s cause.
The insurgency in Mozambique has attracted Shabaab militants, leading to Bilal al-Sudani to split from the main body of the group.
The splinter owes its allegiance to the Islamic State Group while what remains of al-Shabaab maintains close connections to al-Qaeda.
It is seen as premature to believe that the recent string of successes by Somalia’s rebuilt army and its international helpers, chiefly the United State military has sounded the death knell for the militants who in the past have shown a capacity to regroup while under pressure.
They have been making a statement of this by launching sporadic and regular raids on Somali state interests at the heart of the federal capital Mogadishu.
Analysts say they will still retain this offensive capability going into the new year despite losing three fourth of swathes of territory in the south and central regions of the country hitherto under the control ten years ago.