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US Deploys Small Military Team to Somalia

The United States has deployed a small team of military advisers to Somalia for the first time in more than 20 years.

Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Haji Fiqi told VOA the American team has been in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, since October.

He said the presence of U.S. troops in Somalia "underlines the commitment of the international community to support the Somali government to restore peace and security in Somalia."

A U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told VOA the U.S. personnel are helping the Somali military and the National Intelligence and Security Agency.

The advisers will work with the African Union Mission In Somalia to help the Somali military plan and coordinate operations against the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.

This is the first time the United States has had military personnel stationed in Mogadishu since the 1993 operation in which 18 American troops were killed when two helicopters were shot down by militants. The incident came to be known as "Black Hawk Down."

Fiqi said the American team is made up of five soldiers, but Mogadishu would welcome an increase in the numbers. There are no current plans to increase the size of the team.
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