Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Jihadis on the run in Somalia
It appears that the Islamic Courts declared jihad on the wrong people.
The Islamist militias have been forced to retreat from frontline positions after a series of Ethiopian air strikes and a major ground offensive.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister claimed today that the offensive, launched yesterday by the Somalian interim Government and its Ethiopian allies, had killed up to 1,000 Islamic Courts jihadis.
Ethiopia says the Islamic Courts has recruited foreign jihadists, and that a handful of almost 300 prisoners taken after one battle for a central Somali town held British passports.
"A joint Somali government and Ethiopian force has broken the back of the international terrorist forces ... These forces are in full retreat," Meles Zenawi said. "A few are Somali but the majority are foreigners."
They are closing in on Mogadishu, the capital. Yesterday, Ethiopian combat aircraft attacked Mogadishu airport and a second airstrip in the south of the country in Islamic Courts held territory.
The Islamic courts insisted their withdrawal and re-grouping was a tactic in what they vowed would be a long-lasting war against Ethiopia.
"We will fight to the last man until we ensure there are no more Ethiopian troops in our country," said Abdi Kafi a spokesman for the Islamic Courts.
Speaking at a news conference, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, leader of the Union of Islamic Courts, said: "The war is entering a new phase. We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time and we expect the war to go everyplace."