On Wednesday, Somali military forces repulsed an attack by Al-Shabaab terrorists who were attempting to capture the Somali national army base in Daynuney, according to government reports.

Daynuney is a small town located 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Baidoa, the Bay region’s administrative capital. The town has frequently been a target of the terrorist group. For the past several years there have been attacks against it. Before Wednesday’s attack, the town had again been targeted a month ago.

During the pitched fighting, the government claimed to have killed 17 terrorists and wounded another 23. Eight Somali Army troops were killed, including a senior commander. A convoy of quick reaction forces coming to the aid of the base was hit by a roadside bomb, damaging vehicles and wounding several soldiers. 

Somali government forces have stepped up operations against al-Shabaab in the southern region of the country in recent months. They have kept the terrorist group pushed into the rural areas. However, al-Shabaab has continued to be active there, planting landmines, and conducting ambush operations against the military. 

Al-Shabaab acknowledged responsibility for the attack.

Somali government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Oronjo confirmed in Anadolu Agency in a telephone interview that an army commander was among those killed on Wednesday’s attack.

Mohamed Abdullahi, commander of SNA’s 60th Unit in a statement to the media said that al-Shabab militants attacked the base in Daynuney village, but the Somali Army forces defeated them and forced them back.

“The militants’ attempt to overrun the base was foiled as the army fought them bravely killing 17 of them including three senior officials and injuring 23 others,” Abdullahi said.

Al-Shabaab (which means Mujahadeen Youth Movement) was the armed wing of the Islamic Courts Union that was defeated by the Somali military in 2006. It then split away from the Courts Union and became al-Shabaab. The group was designated a terrorist group by the United States in 2008. This was followed by similar designations by Australia, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, the U.K., Singapore, and the U.A.E.

In 2012, al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and to its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

AFRICOM reported that al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the Nigeria-based Boko Haram (BH) were attempting to synchronize and coordinate their activities in terms of sharing funds, training, and explosives.

Al-Shabaab was behind the 2017 truck-bomb attack in the capital Mogadishu that killed nearly 600 people, the worst attack Somalian history. 

A few weeks ago, Foreign Policy posted an article saying that al-Shabaab is receiving direct aid from both Iran and Russia. 

According to the piece, Iran is financially rewarding al-Shabaab members for attacking the United States’ interests in Somalia — something that Russia also does in Afghanistan. Using proxy networks, the Iranians are using al-Shabaab to undermine U.S. influence in the region and to transit weapons to countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Mozambique, and the Central African Republic. The Iranians are also reportedly utilizing al-Shabaab to funnel weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

The Iranians have provided cash, more sophisticated weapons, improvised explosive devices, mortars, and chemicals used to make bombs. They were behind the al-Shabaab attacks on U.S. bases in Somalia and northern Kenya.

The Russians are also forging ties with al-Shabaab through their military intelligence service and through the mercenary Wagner Group. The Russians, specifically, are interested in ousting the United States from their former base at Baledogle. The base was built in the Cold War by the Soviet Union; it was its major hub in the Horn of Africa. It is now used by the U.S. in drone operations against the terrorist group. 

So, while al-Shabaab remains an al-Qaeda affiliate, it receives support from both Iran and Russia, with the expressed aim of forcing the United States out of Africa.