The TFG took Dhobley in Lower Jubba along the border with Kenya on the 3rd of April after many days of fighting. Kenyan tanks and helicopters reportedly took part on the TFG side. This is confirmed both by Shabab and independent media.
The takeover of the town came after about two weeks of seesaw fighting in which Al-Shabab had the upper hand most of the time. The TFG soldiers – well known for being lousy fighters – kept losing to the less equipped and inferior Al-Shabab fighters in Dhobley day after day. Kenyan artillery and tank fire tilted the battle in favor of the TFG, making it possible for them to take the town after Al-Shabab fighters were ordered to withdraw.
Sources tell me that Al-Shabab has more reinforcements on the way to Dhobley, and this seems to be the reason for their withdrawal (to regroup and merge with their reinforcements).
TFG Members of Parliament and a deputy Defense Minister went to an area near Dhobley on the 5th of April for a quick photo op. As always, they claimed that they would take over the Jubba regions. This is exactly what they have been saying for the past 2 years.
For the TFG to take over towns away from the border they need to have the kind of air and artillery support they got in Dhobley in every battle they fight in every town. It is very unlikely that the Kenyans and Ethiopians will advance from the border towns. The Ethiopians have learned the hard way that doing so will not only be a military mishap, but an excellent publicity and recruitment tool for the Insurgents.
Al-Shabab will most likely retake Dhobley, but won’t be able to hold on to it. The Kenyan and Ethiopian artillery and air support – and sometimes ground support – for TFG soldiers in the border areas will likely make the TFG foothold in those towns semi-permanent in the foreseeable future.
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