Battle of Jilib

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Battle of Jilib
Part of the War in Somalia (2006–2009)
Battle-of-jilib-12312006-1404.svg
(click to expand)
Date 31 December 2006–1 January 2007
Location Near Jilib, Somalia
Result Ethiopian/TFG victory
Belligerents
Flag of the Islamic Courts Union crossed swords.svg Islamic Courts Union
Flag of the Islamic Courts Union crossed swords.svg Pro-Islamist Militias
Foreign fighters[1]
Somalia Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
 Ethiopia
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Islamic Courts Union crossed swords.svg Sharif Sheik Ahmed
Flag of the Islamic Courts Union crossed swords.svg Yusuf Hassan
Somalia TFG: Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale
Strength
3,000 Islamic militia and foreign mujahideen
60 technicals
Ethiopian tanks, artillery, MiG fighter-bombers

The Battle of Jilib was a battle in the 2006 Somali War fought by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and affiliated militias against Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces for control of the town of Jilib. It began on 31 December 2006, when ICU forces dug in and defended the town to prevent approach to Kismayo, the last stronghold of the ICU.

Background[edit]

After the Fall of Mogadishu, roughly 3,000 ICU fighters were said to have fled towards the port city of Kismayo, their last remaining stronghold, 300 miles (500 km) to the south.[2][3] In Kismayo, executive leader of the ICU, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was defiant, "We will not run away from our enemies. We will never depart from Somalia. We will stay in our homeland."[4]

In Jilib, the Islamists used bulldozers to prepare trenches and defensive positions. They had about 3,000 fighters and 60 technicals mounted with antiaircraft and antitank guns. Up to 4,700 people fled the area ahead of the fighting.[5]

On Saturday, 30 December, joint Ethiopian/TFG troops had reached the town of Jilib, the last major town on the road to Kismayo. Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed urged the ICU soldiers to fight on.[6][7]

Battle[edit]

On Sunday, 31 December, fighting began in the thick mango forests near Helashid, 11 miles (18 km) to the northwest of Jilib. Ethiopian MiG fighters, tanks, artillery and mortars struck Islamic positions in the assault. Residents reported the road to Jilib was littered with remote-controlled landmines by the ICU.[8] TFG and Ethiopian forces also attacked Bulobaley, with mortars and rockets.[5]

At approximately 5:00 p.m., a heavy gun battle erupted on the outskirts of Jilib town between Islamic fighters and the Ethiopian-backed interim government troops. Tanks and armored vehicles were reported committed by Ethiopian forces.[9] The sound of heavy artillery fire could be heard in Jamame town near Jilib, local residents said.[10]

Islamist commander Sheikh Yusuf Hassan said "The fighting has started. There are heavy losses on both sides," and added that they "are not going to surrender. We will fight to defend Jilib and Kismayo until we die."[11]

Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail Mohammed Hurreh Buba (also spelled Esmael Mohamud Hurreh) declared fighting was going well for the government, and the battles around Kismayo might take another two days. He asked for Somalia's coast to be watched for dhows, small boats which might come and try to rescue or reinforce the Islamists in Kismayo.[12][13] The United States Fifth Fleet's maritime task force based out of Djibouti, was patrolling off the Somali coast to prevent ICU fighters from launching an "attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material," said Commander Kevin Aandahl.[8]

During the night, artillery strikes continued, eventually forcing the ICU frontlines to falter. A mutiny within the ICU caused their forces to disintegrate, and abandon both Jilib and Kismayo. At 10 p.m., the sounds of battle died down.[14] By midnight, the ICU front in Jilib had collapsed, and the ICU began to flee. By 2:00 a.m., they had fled from Kismayo. Local militiamen patrolled the streets, and looting began of former ICU property. They were reported to be fleeing towards Ras Kamboni island in southern Somalia, or the Kenyan border.[15][16]

A map of the situation in Somalia in 2007.

As a result, the transitional government requested that Kenya seal its border with Somalia. According to the BBC, Kenyan armored vehicles appeared heading toward the border, though the government made no formal statements.[17]

Aftermath[edit]

With the ICU in a retreat for the Kenyan border, Transitional Federal Government forces slowly advanced towards Kismayo to avoid the many landmines that had been placed. By 1 January 2007, they had reached Kismayo, which was taken without a fight.[16]

Thereafter, operations moved towards securing the borders with Kenya in the provinces of Afmadow and Badhadhe in the Lower Juba region. Ethiopian aircraft and attack helicopters struck the town of Doble (Dhoobley) in Afmadow province, not far from the Kenyan border. The strikes were presumably to hit ICU elements attempting to cross the border. Fighting tailed off after midnight.[18]

On 4 January, reports said ICU troops were split across Afmadow and Badade districts, and possibly concentrated at the former Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya (AIAI) stronghold of Ras Kamboni.[19] TFG and Ethiopian forces reported taking district capital Afmadow (2 January), and Dhobley along the Kenyan border (3 January), and were presently en route to Badade, the district capital just north of Ras Kamboni.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Former Members of Radical Somali Group Give Details of Their Group". Voice of America. 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  2. ^ "Islamists abandon Somali capital". BBC. 28 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  3. ^ "Somali prime minister arrives to cheers in Mogadishu". CNN. 29 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Thousands greet Somalia's prime minister as he enters capital". Associated Press. 29 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  5. ^ a b Abdi, Sahra (31 December 2006). "Somali Islamists attacked near last bastion". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  6. ^ McCrummen, Stephanie (31 December 2006). "Further Combat Looms in Somalia". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  7. ^ "Somalia: Joint forces advance to Kismayo city, Islamist base". SomaliNet. 30 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  8. ^ a b "Thousands Flee Somalia Fighting". Yahoo!, Associated Press. 2006-12-31. Archived from the original on February 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  9. ^ Yusuf, Aweys Osman (2006-12-31). "Somalia: Fighting rages around Jilib near the port town of Kismayu". Shabelle Media Networks. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  10. ^ "Fierce fighting breaks out in southern Somalia". SomaliNet. 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  11. ^ "Clashes as Somali forces advance on Islamist stronghold". bakutoday.net, Agence France-Presse. 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  12. ^ Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments CIA, 22 November 2006
  13. ^ Majtenyi, Cathy (2006-12-31). "Somali Troops Advance, Ask For Help Monitoring Coast". Voice of America. Archived from the original on December 31, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  14. ^ "Islamists flee final bastion". Reuters/Independent On-Line (IOL). 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  15. ^ "Islamic fighters abandon Somalia stronghold". bakutoday.net, MSNBC. 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  16. ^ a b Farah, Mohamed Abdi (2007-01-01). "Somalia: Islamists lost their last strongholds". SomaliNet. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  17. ^ "Somalia targets Islamists' escape". BBC. 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  18. ^ "Battle for Somalia nears Kenya border - residents". Reuters. 2007-01-03. Retrieved 2007-01-04. 
  19. ^ Ochami, David; Nzau Musau (2007-01-04), 6 Kenyans killed in Somalia air strikes; border closed, Kenya Times 
  20. ^ Duhul, Salad; Elizabeth A Kennedy; Mohamed Olad Hassan; Mohamed Sheikh Nor; Salad Duhul; Nasteex Dahir Farah; David Ochami; Godfrey Olukya (2007-01-04). "Kenya tightens border with Somalia". Mail & Guardian, Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-01-04.