US Going After New Al-Qaeda Haven: Somalia
Military helping government retake capital from insurgents
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2010 9:45 AM CST
Somali government soldiers keep guard near the scene of a suicide car bomb attack in Mogadishu on Monday, Feb. 15, 2010.   (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
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(Newser) – Worried about Somalia's growing role as a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, the US is helping the government prepare for a major offensive to retake its capital after a decade of fighting, writes Jeffrey Gettleman at the New York Times. So far, most of the help has been in the form of training and surveillance, but Special Ops could move in to Mogadishu for quick strikes once the fighting begins in the next few weeks.

One observer in the region tells the Times that something along the lines of an "al-Qaeda exchange program" has sprung up between Somalia and Yemen over the Red Sea. The US is taking pains, however, to emphasize that this is a Somali operation. “This is not an American offensive,” says one State Department official. “The US military is not on the ground in Somalia. Full stop.”