Turkey has opened its largest military base in Africa, in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, as the African country struggles in a protracted war against militants.
The training base was inaugurated on Saturday in the presence of the Turkish chief of staff General Hulusi Akar and Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre.
The newly-constructed facility includes army dormitories, training grounds and prisons and will serve as a training ground for 10,000 Somali soldiers. Some 200 Turkish military officers will be deployed to the base to oversee the training.
During the opening ceremony, Khayre hailed Turkish “unwavering” support to Somalia as Mogadishu tries to rebuild the fractured army and stabilize the war-torn country.
The Somali military, backed by a 22,000-strong African Union army, have managed to purge al-Shabab, a militant group that has been wreaking havoc in Somalia for more than two decades, from the capital and major urban centers. However, the al-Qaeda-linked militants still pose a serious threat to Somalia and neighboring countries, notably Kenya.
Somali officials have vowed to take back control of the country’s security by the end of next year, when foreign troops leave the country. However, it seems a tall order for the Somali government as al-Shabab militants continue launching high-profile attacks, even in Mogadishu.
The United States’ intensified military involvement in the war in Somalia has further provoked al-Shabab, as the group has always claimed to be fighting foreign interference in the country. Washington claims it has killed dozens of militants over the past weeks through its drone attacks although reports on the ground and accounts by al-Shabab say the fatality includes civilians.