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US military admits secret presence in Somalia

Hardline Islamist fighters from Al-Shebab parade in Mogadishu on October 30, 2009The US military has secretly maintained forces in Somalia since 2007, despite earlier public statements claiming it had no presence in the country until last October, defense officials said Thursday. The United States has deployed up to 120 troops in the African nation and hopes to bolster its security ties to Somalia’s government as it battles Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. The US troops operating in Somalia have been mainly Green Beret special forces, who specialize in training and advising local armies, the official said. In October last year, the Pentagon had portrayed the arrival of a handful of military advisers in Somalia as the first deployment of American forces to the country since 1993.

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