The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said Tuesday it has started the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from the East African country.
The ATMIS said the Somali security forces took control of the Haji-Ali military base in Hirshabelle State, marking the official start of the drawdown of the 2,000 soldiers by June 30.
“The drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS troops by the end of June 2023 started today with the handover of Haji-Ali Forward Operating Base in the Hirshabelle State,” the ATMIS said in a brief statement.
The AU mission said Richard Binyenimana, the commander of the ATMIS military base manned by troops from the Burundi National Defence Force, handed the base over to Somali National Army commander Bashir Abukar Ahmed at a ceremony attended by senior officials from the ATMIS and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia.
The ATMIS is also expected to withdraw another 3,000 soldiers by September in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670, which mandate the ATMIS to hand over security responsibilities in agreed areas to Somali security forces.