Turkey inaugurated its largest foreign military base in the world on Saturday in Mogadishu, Somalia, in a ceremony attended by Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, head of the Turkish military General Hulusi Akar, Somali leaders, and top Turkish military officials and diplomats.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, PM Khaire highlighted the significance of the training base for his country saying this is the right direction toward the development and the re-establishment of a Somali Army capable and ready to defense its nation.
“This training base has a unique significance for us because it is a concrete step taken toward building an inclusive and integrated Somali National Army,” said Khaire, adding: "My government and our Somali people will not forget this huge help by our Turkish brothers. This academy will help us train more troops."
Khaire said the base also will help defeat extremism and the ideology that drives young Somali men into violence and terrorism.
For his part, General Akar said the base is the biggest sign of how Turkey wants to help Somalia.
“We are committed to help Somali government, and this base will cover the need for building strong Somali National Army. And it is biggest sign showing our relationship,” confirmed Akar.
The training facility is located south of Mogadishu and had been under construction for the last two years. It is spread over 4 square kilometers and has the capacity to train more than 1,500 troops at a time.
The base will be used to train Somali army forces in its fight against al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab attempting to overthrow the Somali government and install a strict form of Islamic law throughout the country.
General Akar arrived in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Friday where he was received by the commander of the Somali armed forces, General Mohamed Ahmed Jim'ale, at Adan Abdulle international airport in Mogadishu.
Akar then met with Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo who had previously described the Turkish base as “largest Turkish base in the world”.
In other news, Shabab movement threatened to target US troops in Somalia according to a new recording attributed to the movement’s spokesperson Ali Tiri.
Tiri said that on Friday, Shabab had targeted a US-trained base of Somali forces in southwest the country. He threatened that the movement will target US forces next.
The movement issued the threats after a number of its militants and leaders were killed during US air raids announced by US Africa Command (Africom).
Meanwhile, Somali army announced its “grand victory” over Shabab militants in Lower Shabelle region following intensified clashes between army forces and the militants.
Somali News Agency reported commander in charge of the base, General Shegow Ahmed as saying that at least 20 militants were killed as the sides exchanged fire.
At least 20 militants were killed Friday, including commanders, when al-Shabab militants stormed an army base and the two sides clashed for hours.
The militants attacked the base in the town of Barire, 47 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, is one of the liberated towns after it had been under Shabab control for a long time.
The movement declared that the attack is in retaliation for the death of 11 farmers with the help of US army.
Shabab aims to topple the government in Mogadishu and impose its strict interpretation of Islam in the country. It was driven out of the capital in 2011, however it is still heavily present in the south and center of the country.
Al-Qaeda-linked group still carries out frequent attacks on security and government targets, as well as civilians. It also targets African Union peacekeeping troops.